A 50 year old healthy man presented with dysuria and hematuria for 4 months. He had briefly lived in the Middle East 3 years ago. The patient underwent cystoscopy which demonstrated a solid mass in the lateral wall of the bladder. Bladder biopsies were performed and showed invasive squamous cell carcinoma associated with ova consistent with Schistosoma haematobium (Figures 1&2).
Figure 1. H&E of bladder biopsy showing invasive squamous cell carcinoma and ova of Schistosoma haematobium.
Figure 2. High power view of Schistosoma haematobium ova.
Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes of the genus Schistosoma. There are three major species related to human disease: S. haematobium, S. japonicum, and S. mansoni. Clinical presentation of schistosomiasis depends on the species. S. haematobium infection causes urinary schistosomiasis. Urinary schistosomiasis can range from asymptomatic to gross hematuria and possible obstruction resulting in renal failure. S. haematobium is geographically distributed primarily in Africa and the Middle East. Transmission to humans requires direct contact with water harboring snails infected with S. haematobium. The cercaria that are released from infected snails penetrate human skin and then migrate to venules of the bladder and ureters. The cercaria develop into adult male and female flukes. The adult schistosomes reside in the bloodstream and lay eggs that pass through the urine. The eggs are highly immunogenic and produce an intense inflammatory response resulting in hematuria and dysuria. Progression to fibrosis, renal failure and carcinoma may occur as in our patient with squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder. In addition to detection in surgical specimens, S. haematobium may be detected by identification of ova in urine. The ova of S. haematobium are oval and 112-170 µm x 40-70 µm in size with a characteristic terminal spine. In patients with a high clinical suspicion of S. haematobium, serology may be useful when ova are not identified in urine or surgical specimens. The recommended treatment for schistosomiasis is praziquantel. The timing of treatment is important because praziquantel is most effective against the adult worm and requires a mature antibody response to the parasite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend starting treatment for infected travelers at least 6-8 weeks after the last exposure to contaminated water.
-Jill Miller, MD is a 4th year anatomic and clinical pathology resident at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
-Christi Wojewoda, MD, is the Director of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Vermont Medical Center and an Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont.