, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 137-148
Date: 25 Apr 2008

Three Gorges Dam and Its Impact on the Potential Transmission of Schistosomiasis in Regions along the Yangtze River


Large-scale hydroprojects have a propensity for incurring schistosomiasis epidemics by altering the environments of their vicinities. As the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, one of the world’s largest hydroprojects to date, draws near its conclusion, an assessment of the dam’s capacity in causing schistosomiasis becomes more urgent and pressing. This article reviews recent investigations into the possible effects of the dam on schistosomiasis in the Three Gorges region and areas along the Yangtze downstream from the dam. Data used in this article were extracted from peer-reviewed papers found in PubMed, Chinese Journal of Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases, and Chinese Journal of Schistosomiasis Control. Results indicate that the Three Gorges Dam is capable of inducing a wide variety of environmental and ecological changes both within the Three Gorges region and in downstream areas. These changes, however, carry ambivalent implications for the reproduction of Oncomelania snails and the spreading of schistosome infections. Furthermore, major changes in the demographics and agricultural practices of the Three Gorges and downstream Yangtze areas caused by the dam could also exert significant influence on the transmission of schistosomiasis in these regions. Major conclusions of this review include the need for further ecological simulations of the Three Gorges Dam and the need for deploying monitoring and intervention systems to provide successful prophylaxis of the Three Gorges Dam-associated schistosomiasis emergence.