Schistosoma is a genus belonging to class Trematoda of phylum Platyhelminthes. Members of this genus are commonly called schistosomes or blood flukes. One of the distinctive features of schistosomes is their sexual dimorphism such that the males are females differ in size or length and the males have a gynecophore to carry their female mate. The genus includes species such as S. japonicum, S. spindale, S. haematobium, S. indicum, S. intercalatum, S. malayensis, S. mansoni, and S. mekongi.
S. japonicum is yellow to yellow-brown in color. The adult females are longer and slender than the adult males. Typically, they reach to about 15 mm in length. They have a sucker around their mouth and another structure called an acetabulum. Their skin is covered with tiny spines, ridges, and sensory organs, which are believed to be involved in resisting the immune system of their definitive host.1 The egg is oval or round in shape and measures about 80 by 60 micrometers.
S. japonicum is the causative agent of schistosomiasis japonicum. This parasitic worm can infest humans and cause liver and gastrointestinal tract disease. Apart from humans, the species infest other mammals such as rodents, artiodactyls, and other carnivores. S. japonicum makes use of snails in freshwater streams, ditches, and ponds as its intermediate host.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Platyhelminthes
- Class: Trematoda
- Subclass: Digenea
- Order: Strigeidida
- Genus: Schistosoma
- Species: S. japonicum
1 Green, S. 2001. "Schistosoma japonicum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Schistosoma_japonicum/.