Burden of soil transmitted helminthiases in primary school children in Migori County, Kenya
Background: Soil-transmitted helminthiases cause a substantial yet under-appreciated public health burden. School age children harbour the heaviest burden. Infected children experience growth stunting and diminished physical fitness as well as impaired memory and cognition. These adverse health consequences impair educational performance, and reduce school attendance. Determination of the burden is central to designing and implementing appropriate interventions.
Objective: To determine the burden of soil-transmitted helminthiases among primary school children in Migori County, Kenya.
Design: Descriptive cross-sectional study.
Setting: Primary schools in Migori County.
Subjects: Children aged between seven and fourteen years.
Results: Overall, 17% of the children were diagnosed with soil-transmitted helminthiases. Ascaris lumbricoides infections were the most common (9%) followed by hookworm (7%) and Trichuris trichiura infections (3%). Hookworm prevalence was highest in the older children while A. lumbricoides infections were highest in younger children. Further, more boys than girls harboured hookworm infections (p<0.001). Hookworm-A. lumbricoides, hookworm-T. trichiura and A. lumbricoides-T. trichiura coinfections were observed in 2, 3 and 7% of the children respectively. Two children (1%) were infected with all three helminth infections. Majority of the infection were of light intensity. In 12 (39%) of the 31 sampled schools, the prevalence of helminthiasis was above 20%.
Conclusion: Soil transmitted helminthiases is still prevalent in the study area. Our findings also strongly suggest that deworming alone will not eliminate these infections. This may suggest a need to take a more comprehensive approach that incorporates, among other activities, improvement in sanitation and intensification of public health campaigns.