A Longitudinal Study of Schistosome Vector Snail Populations in Liberia

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  • Department of Comprehensive Medicine, University of South Florida, College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida 33612
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Seasonal changes in populations of Biomphalaria pfeifferi and Bulinus globosus were observed at 62 locations in Liberia, West Africa. All varieties of water in both urban and rural locations were sampled. A wet season decrease and dry season increase of B. globosus populations in both urban and rural locations, similar to that reported elsewhere in West Africa, was observed. Similar fluctuations of B. pfeifferi populations were noted. The prevalence of schistosome infected vector snails varied markedly between rural and urban locations. At rural sites parasite prevalence followed the appropriate vector snail prevalence. At urban sites a portion of the vector snail population appeared relatively unaffected by seasonal changes. This stable population harbors a reservoir of infected snails that sustain year round transmission. Human infection was sampled in school children in the study area and prevalence of approximately 50% was found for both Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium. Added to the malacologic information this suggests less than hyperendemic transmission. The data suggest that urban environments should receive priorities for control programs.