Fish Ponds In Relation To the Transmission Of Bilharziasis in East Africa

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Berrie A.D
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There is good evidence that Tilapia nilotica (L.) was maintained in fish ponds in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago [I] and it is known that urinary bilharziasis was also present in Egypt in ancient times. There has probably been a long association between the disease and fish ponds in Africa but this problem has now become very extensive. During recent years there has been a tendency to encourage the proliferation of fish ponds in East Africa with the commendable aim of increasing the amount of protein available to the generally undernourished population. This has caused considerable concern to those involved in the control of vector-borne diseases such as bilharziasis since the ponds provide additional breeding sites for the intermediate hosts in close proximity to the human population. It has been argued that in endemic areas people are likely to contract bilharziasis from natural waters in any case and that the additional risk caused by the introduction of fish ponds is small and is worth accepting in the interests of obtaining the extra protein. Recent surveys of school children [2] have shown that the incidence of pathological changes which can be attributed to infection with Schistosoma haematohillm (Bilharz) in East Africa is far greater than had previously been recognized and it has been concluded that the lives of 15-20 per cent of the children studied will inevitably be shortened, ~ome drastically, as a result of their infection.
East African Agricultural And Forestry Journal, XXXI (3), p. 276-276