Bilharzia: the necessity for control measures on irrigated estates
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Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) today is a major tropical and sub-tropical disease and ranks with malaria as a health problem in these areas. As a health hazard it is beginning to replace the latter disease owing to the improved means of malarial control. Bilharzia is gradually spreading and is now firmly established in areas where it previously did not exist.12 Especially is this so in Africa, where the increasing employment of irrigation and water conservation will tend to disseminate it more widely still.3 Water is the life blood of Africa and the necessity for it is apt to override considerations of health, particularly where preventive measures to control this disease appear on the surface to be impracticable. There results an attitude of mind which often ignores the hazards and even neglects to take elementary precautions. The sequel is an unnecessary intensification of the disease, whereas a little forethought would have kept its incidence within normal bounds. The danger of this attitude needs no stressing. This paper adds to the extensive literature on the theme that its intensity in certain areas may be unnecessarily increased by ill-planned and ill- controlled irrigation schemes. It may be introduced into previously free areas by such schemes, when a little forethought will prevent it ever getting a serious foothold.