Helminthic Infestation in Children Aged 6 to 59 Months with Diarrhea in Calabar
Background: Helminthic infections and diarrheal diseases have remained public health problem worldwide, especially in developing countries. Children below five years of age are at a higher risk. This study therefore aims to determine the prevalence, and intensity of intestinal helminths in children with and without the diarrheal disease.
Materials and Methods: This was a cross‑sectional analytical study of 130 children aged 6 to 59 months, carried out in the Children Emergency Room and the Diarrhea Treatment and Training Unit of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (U. C. T. H), Calabar, Nigeria. Those admitted with and without diarrhoea were consecutively recruited. Data were obtained by administration of questionnaires to parents/caregivers whose children met the inclusion criteria. Clinical examinations including anthropometric parameters (weight and length/height) were carried out on all the children recruited for the study while mid‑upper arm circumference was done for children aged 12–59 months. Stool samples were collected from each child into a wide mouth universal, clean, dry, leak‑proof, container, with the help of their parents/guardians. Microscopy was carried out on the stool samples collected within 1 h in the microbiology laboratory for the presence of ova, larva, or worm segment using direct microscopy with saline and iodine wet preparation and formol ether concentration. Ova were identified and quantified. The type of worm and intensity were recorded.
Results: Out of the 130 children, 65 (50%) had diarrhea while the other 65 (50%) were without diarrhoea. The mean age of subjects with diarrhea was 16.86 ± 11.7 months and 17.60 ± 9.9 months for those without diarrhoea. There was no significant difference in sex distribution between the age groups (P = 0.86). The overall prevalence of intestinal helminthic infection in the study population was 1.5%. The prevalence of intestinal helminths in those with diarrhea and those without diarrhea was 3.1% and 0.0%, respectively, (P = 0.496). Only Ancylostoma duodenale (hookworm) was isolated in those with diarrhea and it was of light intensity. There was no significant difference in the method of disposal and source of water, comparing subjects having diarrhea and those not having diarrhea (P > 0.05). The proportions of subjects that usually played in the sand, go on footwear outside home, and go on footwear at home, were not significantly different comparing those having diarrhea and those not having diarrhea (P > 0.05).
Conclusions: The prevalence rate of intestinal helminths in children with and without diarrhoea was low. There was general environmental cleanliness and personal hygiene in the study population which were likely responsible for the low helminthic infection thus emphasizing the need for maintenance of good hygiene, access to good water supply and periodic intake of anti-helminthic drugs in view of the public health importance of helminthic infection and diarrhoea.