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[Perspectives] Schistosomiasis

Even the most colourless clinical description of schistosomiasis comes across like a pitch for an early David Lynch body horror. Waterborne flatworm larvae penetrate the skin, and move in the bloodstream through the heart and lungs to the liver. Here they mature and mate in the portal circulation, before laying eggs that lodge in the liver—occasionally the spinal cord or genitals—or leave the body via the bladder or intestinal walls. The framing of schistosomiasis as a parasitic tropical disease emerged from a series of global encounters—between medicine and science, between industrial nations competing for dominance, and between imperial governments and their indigenous subjects.