Research Article

A wake up call for urinary schistosomiasis: reconciling research effort with public health importance


a1 Wolfson Wellcome Biomedical Laboratories, Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK


This review considers the current status of urinary schistosomiasis, caused by infection with Schistosoma haematobium, and argues that greater research effort and focus are needed to improve understanding of this neglected tropical disease (NTD). The inappropriateness of relying solely on data concerning the much more extensively studied intestinal form of schistosomiasis caused by S. mansoni is highlighted. The current lack of genome and transcriptome information for S. haematobium is directly hindering further targeted research and must be quickly rectified. Recent molecular phylogenies caution the expectation of similarities between schistosome species and highlight the close relationships of species within the S. haematobium group. Treatment, current and prospective drugs and vaccines, together with diagnosis are considered, highlighting the differences associated with urinary schistosomiasis. This infection has a significant and specific impact on the urino-genital system and has a strong association with bladder cancer, leading to severe and chronic morbidity. There is a clear need for new clinical initiatives in this area to better quantify the disease burden. Furthermore, emerging associations with HIV and other pathogens need to be closely monitored. Research is urgently needed to improve current knowledge in order to develop the next generation of control tools.

(Received April 14 2009)

(Revised May 28 2009)

(Accepted May 29 2009)

(Online publication July 23 2009)


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