Michael J Doenhoff and Anthony E Butterworth, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd, UK

Schistosomiasis is the generic term given to diseases caused by digenetic trematodes, or blood flukes, of the genus Schistosoma. The three main species of schistosome that are pathogenic for humans, S. man-soni, S. haematobium and S. japonicum, are estimated to affect some 200 million people throughout the tropics and cause extensive chronic morbidity and some mortality, especially among children and young adults. Schistosoma haematobium causes urinary schistosomiasis in Africa and the Middle

East, S. mansoni causes intestinal schistosomiasis in South America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East, and S. japonicum causes intestinal schistosomiasis in the Far East, especially China and the Philippines. Two other species of schistosome, S. intercalatum and S. mekongi, are also significant human pathogens, but have relatively restricted geographical distribution, and the important parasites of African cattle and sheep, S. bovis and S. matheei, occur in this genus.

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