Prevalence of Intestinal Parasites in Primary School Children of Mthatha, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
Background: The presence of intestinal parasites in a population group is indicative of lack of proper sanitation, low economic standards and poor educational background.
Aim: To determine the prevalence of intestinal parasites in primary school children of Mthatha, South Africa and relate this to their socio.economic status.
Subjects and Methods: The study population was randomly selected from four governmental schools, rural and urban, from April 2009 to September 2009. A total of 162 learners (85 boys and 77 girls) participated in this survey. Parasitological data were collected by analyzing stool samples using Formalin ethyl.acetate concentration technique. Socio.economic and epidemiologic data were collected by means of a pre-tested structured questionnaire, covering the important relevant aspects, in this descriptive, cross sectional and analytical study. Data were analyzed descriptively and
inferentially with SPSS satistical software, and P values of <0.05 were considered as significant.
Results: Out of 162 learners analyzed, 64.8% (105/162) stool samples were positive for ova and cysts of which 57.4% (93/162) were known pathogenic parasites. The most common parasite was Ascaris lumbricoides 29.0% (47/162), followed by Giardia lamblia 9.9% (16/162) and Entamoeba histolytica/dispar 6.8% (11/162) (Other parasites observed but at lower rates of occurrence were Iodamoeba butschlii, Trichuris trichiura, Hymenolepis nana, Taenia spp, Chilomastix mesnili, and Fasciola spp. Our findings showed no significant difference in parasitic infections between urban and rural learners, gender and the age of these learners. Significant associations between parasitic infections and parentsf unemployment and lower education were observed.
Conclusion: Prevalence of worm infestation was more than 50%; therefore, there was a need for mass de.worming of school children in these communities and also a need for other public health interventions like health education programs and improvement of sanitation.
Keywords: Children, Intestinal parasites, Parasite infection, Prevalence