Reintroducing prawns to lakes and rivers in which they have been partially or fully lost may be a sustainable way of controlling the parasitic disease schistosomiasis, which kills more than 200,000 people every year in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, says a study.
Researchers have found some native prawns to be voracious predators of the freshwater snails that transmit schistosomiasis parasites and so could be used as a biological control, they report in a study in press in Acta Tropica.
Field tests are under way in Senegal, and researchers suggest that farming the edible prawns could help local populations cut disease while also providing an additional source of income.
“Prawns may offer a simple and affordable transmission control solution in rural poor communities where few alternatives exist and drug treatment is failing to achieve long-term disease reductions,” the study says.
People get infected from contact with water containing schistosomiasis parasites, which are released by infected snails.