Oral fecal parasites and personal hygiene of food handlers in Abeokuta, Nigeria

  • OA Idowu Department of Biological Sciences, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
  • SA Rowland


Background: Ingestion of infective eggs and cysts of faecal orally transmissible parasites has been linked with the level of environmental and personal hygiene. The possibility of contamination of food with eggs and cysts by infected food vendors has also been recorded.

Objectives and methods: This study was aimed at assessing the prevalence of parasites with direct transmission and the level of hygiene among food vendors. Stools of randomly selected food vendors selling in schools and streets in Abeokuta were examined for ova and cysts of parasites using formo-ether concentration method. Questionnaires, interviews, and field observation were also used to assess the activities of food vendors.

Results: Ninety-seven (97%) percent of the food vendors were infected with one or more faecal-orally transmissible parasites while 3% were free from such parasites; Parasites observed were Entamoeba histolytica with a prevalence of 72% Ascaris lumbricoides (54%), Enterobius vermicularis (27%), Trichuris trichiura (24%) and Giardia duodenalis(13%). School food vendors recorded lower prevalence of infection (92%) than the street food vendors (98.7%) (P>0.05) Fifty-two percent (52%) of the food vendors have dewormed in the last four years; Eighty percent (80%) of this were school food vendors. Infections with helminthes were recorded in 63.5% of the dewormed food vendors. Food vendors involved in child care activities were found to be more infected than those not involved in such activities. Toilet facilities available to the vendors were mainly pit latrine and other related structure (75%) while 25% had access to water system closets. During hawking, dung hills were majorly used for defaecation. Hand washing after defaecation did not include the use of soap in the few vendors that were involved in hand washing.

Conclusion: There is need to enact food handling policies and implementation of such policies ensured in order to reduce transmission of oral faecal parasites. Keywords: Food vendors, parasites, infection, feacal, helminths

African Health Sciences Vol. 6(3) 2006: 160-164

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eISSN: 1680-6905