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Epidemiological Survey of Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Occupational Risk Groups and Non School Going Children in the Kintampo North District of Ghana
Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) remain a major health threat to humans especially children throughout the world, mostly in developing nations including Ghana. The present de-worming programme by the Ministry of Health is only for children of school-going age; hence occupa-tional risk groups and non-school going children may remain as sources of infection throughout the year. The aim of this study was to conduct a survey on STHs in occupational risk groups and non-school going children in the Kintampo North District of the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Seven hundred and eleven (711) individuals made up of occupational risk groups and non-school going children, between the ages of 1-90 years, were recruited in a cross sectional survey in six (6) rural communities in the Kintampo North District for various STHs. All faecal samples collected were analyzed using the Kato-Katz method which is recognized as the gold standard for the diagnosis of intestinal helminths. A total of 443 (62.3%) individuals were infected with at least one intestinal parasite. Parasites isolated included hookworm, 376/711 (52.9%); Ascaris lumbricoides, 15 (2.1%); Trichuris trichiura, 6 (0.8%); Hymenolepis nana, 38 (5.3%) and Tae-nia spp., 8 (1.1%). Hookworm prevalence was higher in all the six communities (p<0.05). More males, 180/268 (67.5%) were generally infected than females, 263/443 (59.4%) but the difference however was not statistically significant (p>0.05). Hookworm intensities observed included 362/376 (96.3%) light infections, 10 (2.7%) moderate infections and 4 (1.1%) heavy infections. All the observed cases of Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura were of light intensities. The incidence rate of STH infection declined with age with the highest of 151/225 observed in the 1-10 age group. The highest prevalence of 81.1% (99/122) was however recorded among the 11-20 age group. Overall prevalence of intestinal parasite infection was found to be 62.3%. Hookworm is the predominant STH found among the general populace. The most affected risk groups are the non-school going children. General knowledge on STHs among the community members is low, with poor attitudes and practices towards STH prevention, control and treat-ment. It is recommended that future MoH de-worming programmes should include non-school going children and occupational risk groups.