Intestinal protozoan and helminthic diarrheal infections in children under five years old in Agasha, Benue State, north-central Nigeria
Two hundred and twenty-eight stool samples from under 5 years children were examined for common diarrheagenic pathogenic parasites using simple wet mounts and the zinc sulphate floatation technique. Also 72 soil samples were collected from the same area and examined using the zinc sulphate flotation technique. Information on socio- demographics, personal and environmental hygienic practices were obtained using questionnaire. Common parasites isolated and identified from stool samples were Entamoeba histolytica 47 (20.6%), Giardia lamblia 30 (13.2%), Hookworm 16 (7.0%), Ascaris lumbricoides 7 (3.1%), Entamoeba coli 6 (2.6%), Isospora beli 4 (1.8%) and Balantidium coli 1 (0.4%); and from soil samples, Entamoeba histolytica 45 (62.5%), Giardia lamblia 29 (40.3%), Hookworm 34 (47.2%), Ascaris lumbricoides 33 (45.8%) and Balantidium coli 6 (8.3%) were isolated and identified. Personal and environmental hygienic practices were relatively poor as 45.6% of parents/care-givers did not wash their hands after toilet use, and 73% after handling children’s stool against other observations. Children were also observed to indulge in high risk play habits; however there was no significant association with infection rates. Poor hygienic practices especially hand hygiene may have promoted these intestinal protozoan and helminthic diarrheal infections. The study advocates for an increase in health education and awareness creation particularly on proper hand washing with soap or ash and water for children and their parents/care-givers.
Keywords: diarrhea, protozoa, helminthes, hygiene and hand hygiene.