Schistosomiasis (bilharzia) is an infectious disease caused by a parasitic worm that impacts millions of people living in underdeveloped tropical areas of the world.The parasite is carried by freshwater snails and humans are at risk of infection while in the water for recreation, washing or fishing.
The World Health Organization estimates that schistosomiasis afflicts over 230 million people in 78 countries.For many countries, schistosomiasis ranks near the top in causes of morbidity associated with infectious disease.
In addition to the substantial health burdens associated with the disease, especially in children and young adults, schistosomiasis places a severe strain on primary health care facilities and limits the overall economic development of the region.Clearly, further research efforts are essential for reducing the impact of this helminth infection as a public health menace.
For more than 30 years, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the NationalInstitutes of Health (NIH) has supported the Schistosomiasis Resource Center (SRC) at the Biomedical Research Institute.The SRC (a.k.a. SR3) provides scientists and research investigators with schistosome life cycle stages for biomedical research, teaching and or training purposes free of charge. Three major Schistosoma species affecting humans: Schistosoma haematobium, S. japonicum and S. mansoni can be obtained from the SRC either in their specific snail host or in infected rodents. In addition, the SRC provides education and training through the biannual Schistosoma spp. Life Cycle Training Course which is open to students, junior scientists and senior investigators.
In addition to fostering the development of schistosomiasis research, the SRC offers technical assistance to other laboratories on snail propagation and maintenance, parasite collection and animal infection protocols.