This has been revealed here by Dr Mabai Thobias, coordinator for diseases that do not receive priority in the region, during an interview with this paper at the weekend.
“Statistics from various health centres in Mwanza Region show that people affected with bilharzias alone in Ukerewe District were 1,765, Buchosa District 600 and more than 572 in Ilemela District,” he said.
He stressed that bilharzias is a fact, and there is no district in Mwanza Region that is safe from it, adding; “in Ilemela and Nyamagana the infection is more than 80 percent and it was also found that in families living near the Lake shores seven or eight out of ten people were affected.”
Dr Thobias said bilharzia is caused by parasites known as Schistosoma which are spread by snails, and the disease is of two kinds – “stomach bilharzia” and “urinary bladder bilharzias.”
He said infection of the disease being spread by snails occur when humans with the disease help themselves near water sources where snails lay their eggs. He added that the eggs spread in water and when humans use the water by bathing, drinking or washing they might get bilharzias infection.
Dr Thobias said the disease’s symptoms include stomach pains, urinating blood and if the patient delays treatment it could be fatal as damage could occur in his digestive system leading to prostate cancer and even death.
It is also claimed that fishermen in Lake Victoria are more prone to the disease since most of the time they are in the water fishing.
Dr Thobias said there are three types of stomach worms – diarrhea, tapeworms and ringworms all of which are dangerous and the symptoms include coughing, skin rashes, itching, stomach pains, purging, dizziness, and vomiting blood and added that the patient must be referred to a hospital without delay.
He said: “2018 statistics show that about 17,000 people were infected with stomach worms in Mwanza Region – with Ilemela District leading having 9,000 people who were infected, Ukerewe District had more than 7,000 and Sengerema District recorded 5,000.”
He said the group that is mostly affected by stomach worms is school going children and adults of over 60 years old.
He said the infection is through eating uncooked food including salad, carrot, cabbages and by not washing hands after going to the toilet as well as walking barefoot.