The French Institute for Public Health and Surveillance has identified 12 cases of Schistosomiasis infection in people that bathed in the Cavu river in Southern Corsica (near Porto Vecchio) between 2011 and 2013. This is unusual as Schistosomiasis infection is usually associated with South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.
Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) is a parasitic worm infection of the gastrointestinal or urogenital tract. Transmission occurs when human skin is exposed to fresh water containing infective forms of the parasite. Initial infection is usually symptomless but a self-limiting itchy rash may occur at the site of skin penetration.
Recommendations for Travellers
- Check prior to travel if you are visiting regions where schistosomiasis occurs.
- Swim only in chlorinated swimmingpools or safe sea water in affected areas.
- Avoid activities in affected regions that may involve direct water contact, this includes paddling, swimming, diving, snorkeling, rafting, canoeing, water sports etc.
- Visit your GP for screening tests on return to the UK if you are concerned you have been exposed. Early treatment stops the risk of long-term damage.
Screening for Returned Travellers
Travellers that have that bathed in the Cavu river since 2011 should contact their GP for Schistosomiasis screening 6-8 weeks after last possible exposure.
If a traveller is unsure if they have been exposed screening is often warranted, particularly as symptoms may manifest only years after exposure.
For further information on Schistosomiasis please refer to the Fit for Travel Schistosomiasis advice sheet.