Distribution and current infection status of Biomphalaria straminea in Hong Kong

Xin Zeng, Wing Chung Yiu, Kwan Ho Cheung, Ho Yin Yip, Wenyan Nong, Ping He, Dongjuan Yuan, David Rollinson, Jianwen QIU, Ming Chiu Fung, Zhongdao Wu*, Jerome Ho Lam Hui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Schistosomiasis, also generally known as snail fever, is a parasitic disease caused by trematode flatworms of the genus Schistosoma. In Hong Kong and mainland China, the freshwater snail Biomphalaria straminea has been introduced and has the potential to transmit intestinal schistosomiasis caused by S. mansoni, a parasite of man which has a wide distribution in Africa and parts of the New World, especially Brazil. The first identification of B. straminea in Hong Kong dates back to the 1970s, and its geographical distribution, phylogenetic relationships, and infection status have not been updated for more than 30 years. Thus, this study aims to reveal the distribution and current infection status of B. straminea in contemporary Hong Kong. Methods: Snails were collected from different parts of Hong Kong from July 2016 to January 2017. Both anatomical and molecular methods were applied to identify B. straminea. Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1), internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1), 5.8S rDNA, internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2), and 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) were sequenced from individual snails and analyzed. To detect the presence of S. mansoni, both biopsy and PCR analyses were carried out. Results: Using both anatomical and molecular analyses, this study demonstrated the existence of black- and red-coloured shell B. straminea in different districts in the New Territories in Hong Kong, including places close to the mainland China border. None of the B. straminea (n = 87) investigated were found to be infected with S. mansoni when tested by biopsy and PCR. The Hong Kong B. straminea are genetically indistinguishable, based on the chosen molecular markers (cox1, ITS1-5.8S-ITS2, and 16S rDNA), and are similar to those obtained in mainland China and South America. Conclusion: Biomphalaria straminea is now well established in freshwater habitats in Hong Kong. No evidence of infection with S. mansoni has been found. Surveillance should be continued to monitor and better understand this schistosomiasis intermediate host in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Original languageEnglish
Article number351
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

User-Defined Keywords

  • Biomphalaria straminea
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Schistosoma mansoni
  • Schistosomiasis


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