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Vet Parasitol. 2004 Dec 9;126(1-2):167-93.

Waterborne zoonotic helminthiases.

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Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University, Henri Dunant Road, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.


This review deals with waterborne zoonotic helminths, many of which are opportunistic parasites spreading directly from animals to man or man to animals through water that is either ingested or that contains forms capable of skin penetration. Disease severity ranges from being rapidly fatal to low-grade chronic infections that may be asymptomatic for many years. The most significant zoonotic waterborne helminthic diseases are either snail-mediated, copepod-mediated or transmitted by faecal-contaminated water. Snail-mediated helminthiases described here are caused by digenetic trematodes that undergo complex life cycles involving various species of aquatic snails. These diseases include schistosomiasis, cercarial dermatitis, fascioliasis and fasciolopsiasis. The primary copepod-mediated helminthiases are sparganosis, gnathostomiasis and dracunculiasis, and the major faecal-contaminated water helminthiases are cysticercosis, hydatid disease and larva migrans. Generally, only parasites whose infective stages can be transmitted directly by water are discussed in this article. Although many do not require a water environment in which to complete their life cycle, their infective stages can certainly be distributed and acquired directly through water. Transmission via the external environment is necessary for many helminth parasites, with water and faecal contamination being important considerations. Human behaviour, particularly poor hygiene, is a major factor in the re-emergence, and spread of parasitic infections. Also important in assessing the risk of infection by water transmission are human habits and population density, the prevalence of infection in them and in alternate animal hosts, methods of treating sewage and drinking water, and climate. Disease prevention methods, including disease surveillance, education and improved drinking water treatment are described.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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