Academic journal article American Academic & Scholarly Research Journal

Current Appraisal of Socio-Economic Factors Associated with Intestinal Helminth Infections in South-Eastern Nigeria

Academic journal article American Academic & Scholarly Research Journal

Current Appraisal of Socio-Economic Factors Associated with Intestinal Helminth Infections in South-Eastern Nigeria

Article excerpt


A cross-sectional study was carried out to assess the current status of intestinal helminth infections and the associations between selected socio-economic variables and helminthosis among school children less than twenty years old in five rural communities in Southeastern, Nigeria. A total of 3000 school children randomly selected from the study communities were enrolled for the study. Data collection involved the use of Kato Katz for microscopic examination of stool samples, semi-structured questionnaires and focal group discussion (FGDs). T-test was used to to determine the association of socoi-economic variables and intestinal helminthosis.The overall prevalence of intestinal helminth infections was 60.4%. The intestinal helminthes isolated included hookworm (29.1%), Ascaris lumbricoides (22.1%), Trichuris trichiura (4.6%), Strongyloides stercoralis (2.4%), Taenia spp (1.1%) and Diphyllobothrium latum (1.1%). Hookworm (29.1%) was the most predominant helminth. Males were more infected (61.1%) than females (59.6%). Individuals aged 3-5 years old had the highest prevalence (75.4%) of intestinal helminth infections. Factors that were significantly associated with the risk of acquisition of the infections included age of the school children, type of toilet facility, source of water, level of education, occupation, housecrowding, hygiene habits. Conscientious personal cleanliness, proper sanitation and controlled good water supplies would be useful for effective control.

Keywords: intestinal, helminth, infections, socio-economic, factors, Nnewi South, Anambra, State, Nigeria.


Helminthes are known to cause a lot of morbidity and socio-economic deprivation in population living in the tropics, where poor sanitary conditions provide optimal environmental conditions for their development and transmission (Akogun and Badaki, 1998; Pukuma and Sale, 2006). It is estimated that over one billion of the world population are chronically infected with the major soil transmitted helminthes. While the morbidity associated with these infections is estimated to affect 447 million people with annual mortality of 135,000 (Pukuma and Sale, 2006; WHO, 1998).

The different types of intestinal helminth parasites often encountered include Ascaris lumbricoides hookworm, Trichuris trichiura, Strongyloides stercoralis. Other helminthes such as the zoonotic (Taenia solium, Cysticercus spp, Trichinella spp, Echinococcus spp) are less prevalent but contribute significantly to morbidity (WHO, 1998).

Transmission of parasites is sometimes influenced by differences in environment, local population and socio-economic and socio-cultural habits such that parasite distributions in two adjacent communities sometimes differ among school age children. Different parasite species might have different effects on children (Olsen et al., 2001). Heavy parasite burden may cause digestive and nutritional disturbances, blockages of the gut, abdominal pain, vomiting restlessness, disturbed sleep and the perforation of tissue (Mbanugo and Abazie, 2002; Obiukwu et al., 2009).

Although many studies regarding intestinal parasites focus on establishing the prevalence and intensity of these infections in different populations, fewer studies have examined the socio-economic and cultural factors that affect transmission of intestinal helminthes. Some studies have shown that lack of education, lack of adequate toilet facilities, lower socio-economic status, level of sanitation in households are related to parasitoses (Cooper and Bundy, 1988, Holland et al., 1988; Yusuf and Hussen, 1990; Rajeswani et al., 1994; Ighogboja et al., 1997; Pegelow et al., 1997; Gamboa et al., 1998). These reports coupled with the fact that there have been few surveys designed to determine associations between socio-economic/ socio-cultural variables and intestinal helminth prevalence data prompted the initiation of this study in five communities in Nnewi South Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria. …

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