Human Schistosomiasis in Cameroon

II. Distribution of the Snail Hosts

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  • Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, University of Yaounde, Institute of Medical Research and Study of Medicinal Plants, New Orelans, Louisiana, Cameroon

A nationwide survey for snail hosts of human schistosomes was carried out in Cameroon between 1985 and 1988. In total, 668 sites at 432 locations were sampled. In the arid, northern half of the country (tropical climatic zone), where both intestinal and urinary schistosomiasis are hyperendemic, Biomphalaria pfeifferi was the only Schistosoma mansoni host and Bulinus globosus and B. senegalensis the most common S. haematobium hosts. In that region, these snails occurred almost exclusively in temporary bodies of water. Taking into account results from a companion study on the distribution of schistosomiasis in humans, our results clearly show that temporary water bodies in the tropical zone are the principal foci of transmission. These findings disagree with commonly held views about schistosome transmission in Cameroon. B. truncatus, a S. haematobium host, was also present in the tropical zone but was found principally in perennial habitats. Although some perennial habitats were important transmission sites, they represent only a small portion of the overall problem. B. truncatus is the principal S. haematobium host in the wetter southern half of the country where schistosomiasis haematobium is highly focal. Biom. camerunensis was far more common than Biom. pfeifferi in the South but did not occur where S. mansoni prevalence rates were high; thus it appears to be a poor host. B. forskalii, the sole host of S. intercalatum in Cameroon, occurs widely throughout the country; however, the schistosome is restricted to a small region in the South.