Delay in schistosomiasis diagnosis and treatment: A multicenter cohort study in Italy

Agnese Comelli, Niccolò Riccardi, Diana Canetti, Michele Spinicci, Giovanni Cenderello, Paola Magro, Laura Ambra Nicolini, Valentina Marchese, Lorenzo Zammarchi, Francesco Castelli, Alessandro Bartoloni, Antonio Di Biagio, Silvio Caligaris, Giovanni Gaiera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Barriers to access to care, different diagnostic strategies and low awareness remain challenging issues in the fight against schistosomiasis. Our study aims to examine management of schistosomiasis in migrants attending large tertiary hospitals in Italy, in order to call for a comprehensive approach. Methods: A retrospective review of schistosomiasis cases was carried out between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2017, in five large Infectious Disease Centers in Italy. We included all patients diagnosed with schistosomiasis. We differentiated among (i) asymptomatic patients diagnosed by serology either as healthy 'migrant evaluation' or as 'late evaluation' in patients followed because of a different infection and (ii) patients tested because of a suggestive clinical presentation. Patients characteristics and clinical data were recorded. Results: One hundred forty-nine patients were included, 137 (91.9%) were male, the median age was 26 years and 70% of them came from Sub-Saharan Africa. Thirty-eight asymptomatic patients (25.5%) were diagnosed by serology [15, (10.1%) among 'migrant evaluation' and 23 (15.4%) among 'late evaluation' group], and 111 (74.5%) presented with signs/symptoms. The median diagnostic delay from arrival in Italy was 31 months: 110 for asymptomatic group and 16 months for symptomatic patients. Among the 111 symptomatic patients, 41 individuals were already followed in our clinics, and they never underwent screening before appearance of evident disease. Among patients with positive serology who were tested by microscopy, 32/86 (37.2%) had confirmed diagnosis. Forty-five (37.8%) patients presented radiologic abnormalities. Praziquantel was the treatment of choice (70.1% for 3 days and 29.9% in a single-day dose), and 77 (51.7%) were lost to follow-up. Conclusions: In our centers, a high proportion of patients were tested late after arrival, and most of them presented with clinical apparent disease. Well-defined strategies and implementation of recent guidelines are needed to improve early diagnosis and to overcome heterogeneity of practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbertaz075
JournalJournal of Travel Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 3 2020


  • barriers to access
  • chronic schistosomiasis
  • Migrants
  • Missed opportunities
  • Neglected tropical disease
  • Praziquantel
  • Schistosomiasis
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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