What is schistosomiasis?

Schistosomiasis is a water-borne tropical disease caused by parasitic worms, with many people dying from it every year. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has committed itself to fighting this insidious disease.

A Neglected Tropical Disease

More than 240 million people worldwide are affected by this water-borne disease caused by parasitic worms, with an estimated 200,000 losing their lives annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Schistosomiasis (also called bilharzia) often affects underprivileged developing communities, where access to safe water and sanitation is limited. The combined impact of the disease burden and economic costs make schistosomiasis one of the most devastating neglected tropical diseases.

The serious effects

Infection can lead to a range of symptoms and problems, such as anemia, abdominal pain and swelling, blood in urine/stool or bladder cancer, depending on the exact area of the body that is infected. These symptoms can negatively impact cognitive development, growth and more. They can also affect community and economic development, as infected adults who have a chronic infection, often dating back to childhood, become debilitated and unable to work. In partnership with other organizations including WHO, we have set ourselves the goal of fully eliminating this disease.

  • Living our Commitment

    More than a decade ago we committed ourselves to the fight against schistosomiasis. Learn more about our efforts to eliminate the disease.

    learn more
  • What has been going on?

    Greater awareness will lead to more action to control and eliminate schistosomiasis. Learn how we have been raising awareness of this disease.

    learn more
  • Danger in the water

    Schistosomiasis affects many children in Africa. Manyazewal is one of these people. He is eight years old and lives in a rural area of Ethiopia.

    Learn more