Prevalence of instestinal parasites among medically certified food-Handlers in Nairobi, Kenya.
Njuguna, Kamau, Paul
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Protozoa and helminthes are the commonest and widespread causes of infections andare a major public health problem with amoeba being the most frequent among food handlers.Human beings acquire intestinal parasitic infections through several routesincluding faecal-oral and skin penetration and are facilitated by many factors includingpoor sanitation and overcrowding. Probable sources of infection include food outletsthrough food-handlers. The objective of the study was to determine the rate of intestinalparasitic infection in medically certified food-handlers within the validity period. Theincubation period of these infections range from a few days for protozoa to three monthsfor helminthes.Issued medical certificates have a validity period of six months and somefood-handlers may get infected by intestinal parasites and can be sources of infectionto people they serve or interact with during the six months validity period. Medicallycertified food-handlers were randomly selected from various categories of food outlets fromMathare, Central Business District of Nairobi and its environs. Three hundred andtwelve food-handlers of whichlJ.l,105 and 76 were studied from low, middle and highclass food outlets respectively. Sampling was carried out on a weekly basis over a periodof twelve months. During the study period 48, 17 and 5 food outlets from low, middle andhigh class were sampled. Stool samples collected from the food-handlers were processedand examined under a microscope for cysts, trophozoites, larvae and eggs of intestinalparasites using direct and concentration techniques. SPSS version 16 was used to analyzegenerated data. Fisher's Exact test was used to test for significance between parasiteassociations. The parasites found in certified food- handlers were Entamoebahistolytica,Ascarislumbricoidesand Giardia lamblia. E. histolyticahad slightly higher infection ratesthan G. lambliaandA. lumbricoidesbut no significant difference was observed (F = 1.779,P = 0.248). Overall pattern of parasites per age stratum had significant statistical difference(P=0.039, X2= 4.20). Low class food outlets had slightly higher parasite incidences butthe different food class categories showed no significant differences (F= 1.495, P= 0.297).Parasite infection had no significant statistical difference with education levels (P = 0.36,X~ 2.99) but was statistically significant between the age strata (P=0.039, X~ 4.20). Theresults of this study showed that certified food-handlers get intestinal parasitic infectionsduring the certificate six month's validity period. Therefore, it is recommended that thevalidity period of medical certificates be revised from six to three months; enforce highlevel of personal hygiene through regular food outlet inspections and health education.This will reduce the chances of infections from the food- handlers to their clients.
- MST-Zoological Sciences