Parasitology Research

, Volume 105, Issue 4, pp 1061–1066 | Cite as

Penetration of cercariae into the living human skin: Schistosoma mansoni vs. Trichobilharzia szidati

  • Wilfried Haas
  • Simone Haeberlein
Original Paper


We studied the skin invasion of Schistosoma mansoni cercariae by placing gamma-irradiated and nonirradiated cercariae onto the living human skin and timing the behavior of 53 individuals. The skin invasion of S. mansoni was less efficient compared to the bird schistosome Trichobilharzia szidati. S. mansoni cercariae crept longer on the skin after attachment until they started penetration movements (median of 43 s [range of 15 s–6.58 min]; T. szidati, median of 8 s [range of 0–80 s]). Subsequent to this longer exploratory phase, 74% penetrated into wrinkles (T. szidati 84%), 22% into the smooth skin surface (T. szidati 0%), and 4% into hair follicles (T. szidati 16%). The S. mansoni cercariae needed, on average, 6.58 min (range of 1.57–13.13 min) for full entry, while T. szidati needed 4.0 min (range of 1.38–13.34 min); the fastest S. mansoni cercaria entered the skin within 94 s, while T. szidati entered within 83 s. Sixty percent of the S. mansoni cercariae had the tails still attached when the bodies disappeared in the skin whereas all T. szidati cercariae shed their tails within 0–105 s after the onset of penetration movements. The faster invasion of T. szidati may result from the more sophisticated host-finding mechanisms of this species. Regarding S. mansoni, cercarial dermatitis, as immediate skin response, developed after a sensitization period of 19 days.


Haas Schistosomiasis Schistosoma Mansoni Skin Surface Lipid Skin Invasion 
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This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. We thank Professor Reinhold Müller, Strahlenklinik, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen for gamma-irradiation of the cercariae and Christina Loy for her expert technical work. The experiments comply with the current laws of Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Erlangen–NurembergErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Microbiology Institute—Clinical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, University Clinic of ErlangenUniversity of Erlangen–NurembergErlangenGermany

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