Geophagy and intestinal parasites among primary school children in Calabar metropolis
The study was aimed at assessing common geophagy among children from high and low income areas of Calabar, and to elucidate to what extent it has influenced the epidemiology of intestinal parasitic infections. A structured questionnaire was administered and bottles were distributed for stool sample collection. A total of 598 faecal samples were examined from school children; 208 in the high income catchment schools and 390 from the low income catchment schools. Geophagy was significantly higher among children from the low income catchment schools (p<0.05). A significantly higher prevalence of geophagous children was positive for intestinal parasites than non-geophagous children. Majority of geophagous children also had parents who have little or no education. A comparison of the prevalence of all intestinal parasites pooled together showed a significantly higher prevalence among children in the low-income catchment schools (p<0.05). Ascaris lumbricoides and Necator americanus were the commonest intestinal parasites observed. The various epidemiological indices were comparable in both sexes. It is concluded that geophagy is a risk factor in the epidemiology of intestinal parasites in Calabar metropolis.