Epidemiology of tunga penetrans infestation and antigens characterization in selected locations in Kiharu Constituency, Murang’a County, Kenya
Mwangi, Jamleck Ndung’u
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Tungiasis is the condition brought about by Tunga penetrans fleas when they burrow into the skin of their hosts. It is a medical condition that has largely been ignored. The distribution, prevalence, pathological effects, causes and means by which it can be treated or prevented have not been widely studied in Kenya hence there is scarce epidemiological data. Moreover, the parasite antigens have not been characterized and this could seriously affect its intervention. This study therefore sought to investigate the epidemiology of tungiasis in selected locations in Kiharu constituency, Murang’a County and characterize immunodominant antigens of T. penetrans. This research comprised of field study as well as laboratory procedures. The study population mainly comprised of primary school children (n=508), but also included their relatives at home (n=43). Purposive sampling was used to select the four study locations namely: Gaturi, Kimathi, Kahuhia and Mugoiri. In each of the locations, three primary schools and their pupils were randomly sampled. Through questionnaires, interviews guides, focused group discussions and observations, data was collected. Jigger and blood samples were collected from participants for protein characterization. Crude jigger proteins were used to immunize five albino laboratory rats (Rattus norvegicus) to raise sera. Antigens were analyzed in gel electrophoresis, immunodiffusion and western blot. The mean prevalence of jiggers in pupils in the study locations was 19.1% while that of adults was 14%. In multivariate logistic regression analysis some independent factors were identified to be associated with tungiasis; lack of regular use of closed foot ware (OR=10.45; 95% CI=1.49-73.23), living in earthen mud walled houses (OR=13.78; 95% CI=3.127-60.69) sharing living quarters with domestic animals (OR=0.11; 95% CI=0.003-.046), and learning in classrooms with dusty floors (OR=14.657; 95% CI=2.262-94.95). The level of income of the parents was observed to be associated with some risk factors suggesting that poverty is an important factor in jigger infestation. Three major immunodominant antigens in T. penetrans reactive to human immune system during infestation were identified. Their molecular weight ranges between 15.38 and 51.795 kDa. This study shows that tungiasis is an emerging neglected disease in Kiharu constituency with a significant health concern. Modifiable risk factors were identified that should be the focus of sustainable and effective control measures.
- MST-Zoological Sciences