Let me tell you about a snail. A snail called Bill. Bill is a special snail and from ancient times to rather recently, Bill was responsible for the the male version of menstruation in Egypt and was thus viewed as a rite of passage for boys, even being linked to increased fertility.
Bill has power.
Bill was a common cause of death for Ancient Egyptians in the Greco-Roman Period.
But he was only warming up then.
Bill affects almost 210 million people worldwide, and an estimated 12,000 to 200,000 people die because of Bill in a year. Bill is most commonly found in Africa, but he can also found in Asia and South America. Around 700 million people, in more than 70 countries, live in areas where Bill is common. Bill is second only to malaria, as a parasitic disease with the greatest economic impact.
Oh and Bill makes you more susceptible to HIV. Just what you need in the waters of Africa.
Bill is an aquatic snail.
Who is Bill?
Bill is actually an infected snail. Inside him is a parasite. It got in through his foot. The parasite uses Bill to produces lots of spores. These slide on out of Bill and into the waters where people swim. They latch onto your skin, break down your defences and penetrate you. Once inside it’s time to make eggs. LOTS OF EGGS.
Eggs hatch. It is in their nature.
Now it’s time for coughing, diarrhoea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, genital sores, a high white blood cell count and an enlarged liver and spleen.
Bill’s full name is Bill Harzia, or Bilharzia, snail fever, Katayama fever or formally Schistosomiasis. He exists in almost all freshwater lakes in Africa.
In Lilongwe we go to a pharmacy and are weighed. That’s 5 tablets for me and 4 for Jess to be taken after a heavy meal and spaced roughly-evenly apart over a two hour period. The tablets are not pleasant tasting but are very, very cheap. Like $2 cheap.
Bill is a lightweight compared to modern drugs.
It’s just that most people can’t afford $2 to spent on the medication when they live on less than $2 a day.
I didn’t start out writing this post to be a donate now! Call To Action! But it seems that at least one organisation is doing a good job with the money it gets to stop Bill.
Don’t trust me. Here is the givewell.org link.