Theodor Maximillian Bilharz, German physician and parasitologist, born March 23, 1825 in Sigmaringen. Theodor Bilharz attended the secondary school in Sigmaringen and showed an early interest in nature, and particularly entomology. He studied philosophy for two years at the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiberg where his disciplines were mathematics, physics, chemistry, mineralogy, botany, geology, antique art, history, ethics and psychology. One of his teachers at Freiberg "Freidrich Arnold" (1803-1890), influenced Bilharz to become passionately interested in medical research, particularly that of comparative anatomy.
From 1845, Bilharz studied medicine at the University of Tubingen still under Freidrich Arnold's supervision, who had accepted the chair of anatomy and physiology at Tubingen that year. In 1847, he submitted a prize-winning paper on microscopic investigations on the blood of invertebrates. In 1849, he passed the state examination in Sigmaringen and the following year he received his doctorate at Tubingen.
In 1850, Bilharz accompanied Wilhelm Griesinger to Egypt on an expedition arranged by the duke of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. It was the new ruler of Egypt, Abbas I, who engaged Griesinger and named him director of the Egyptian Department of Hygiene. Greisinger made it a condition that his 25 years old assistant comes with him. In Cairo, Greisinger and Bilharz came to medical school near Kasr Al-Aini.
As early as 1851 Theodor Bilharz (27years) had discovered strange worms in the corpse of an Egyptian, in the Egyptian School of Medicine in Cairo, who was suffering from unknown hematuria died. Bilharz described the anatomy of these worms in detail and called it the "Distoma haematobium" parasite. The worms were long white worms that with the naked eye appeared to be nematodes and under the microscope revealed a magnificent Distomum with flat body and twisted tail. He died on the 9th of January 1862 (39 years) and was buried in the German Cemetery in Cairo. In 1856, Hims Bach gave the worms the name Bilharzia after Bilharz in gratitude for his discoveries. In 1864, Harley assumed that the Bilharzia eggs were the causative agent of the disease and Coubbold noticed that infection by Bilharzia is associated with water and expected that fresh water snails has a part in the transmission of the disease (Intermediate host). In 1903, Manson discovered similar eggs but with lateral spines belonging to some other kind of Bilharzia.
In 1907, Sambon called the worms that lay eggs with lateral spines "Bilharzia mansoni" in honor and memory of Manson. In 1913, Miyari and Suzuky in Japan managed to trace the life cycle of the parasite. In 1915, Lipier established that S. haematobium and S. mansoni were transmitted by 2 different snails, Bulinus contortus & Planorbis boisyii respectively.
In 1918 Chritopherson introduced tartar emetic as a cure for schistosmiasis in Khartoum, Sudan. Direct evidence of the presence of the parasite by one of the foremost pioneers in the field of Palaeopathology (Ruffer, 1910) was furnished by the demonstration of large number of calcified ova situated for most part among the straight tubules in the kidneys of 2 Egyptian mummies (1250 - 1000 B.C).
Since haematuria is one of the chief symptoms of urinary schistosomiasis, the disease was named after this symptom. It was treated by a special type of cake. The symptoms of the disease were frequent also among the French troops during the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt (1799 - 1801).