More volunteers getting ‘snail disease’

GROWING numbers of volunteers travelling to work in Africa are developing a disease linked to a parasite, latest figures reveal.

Experts in the infection and travel medicine unit at St James’s Hospital in Leeds report there were 34 new cases of schistosomiasis in the 12 months to the end of April last year – up from 24 and 11 cases in the preceding two years.

The disease caused by a parasitic worm is picked up from contact with fresh water contaminated by infected snails.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

An investigation found 87 per cent of those affected were university students, with most travelling to work as volunteers. Most acquired the infection in Uganda or Malawi. Most of the diagnoses were in travellers without symptoms who had requested post-travel screening, as recommended by experts.

Officials from the Health Protection Agency said the overall trend in cases of the disease were thought to be falling. There were 67 cases in 2005 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.