Effects of geohelmiths and schistosoma species on nutritional status of children in mwea irrigation scheme, Kenya
Njiru, J. M.
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Geohelminths and Schistosoma species are among the leading parasites causing morbidity and death to millions of people worldwide. Over 1450 million people are infected with geohelminths and over 200 million with schistosomes. These infections occur predominantly in rural areas and are associated with illiteracy, poverty, poor sanitation, unhygienic conditions and high risk of exposure to environmental and biological hazards. In Kenya the overall prevalence of geohelminths and schistosomiasis is estimated to be 25% but there appear to be pockets of very high endemicity. These are found in the Coast and in Nyanza Provinces, which also form pockets of high malnutrition cases in the country. Heavy infection with geohelminths and Schistosoma species has a negative impact on the nutritional status of children. The main objective of this study was to examine the prevalence of geohelminths and Schistosoma sp infections among the primary school children in Mwea Irrigation Scheme and how this affected their nutritional status. A sample population of 196 children was used for the study. Assessment of nutritional status was done using anthropometric measurements, infection rate was established using Kato Katz technique for examining stool and haemoglobin level, estimated using Drabkin's method was used to assess anaemia. All the infected children received treatment as part of the control program. Data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Epi info statistical packages. The overall prevalence rate of geohelminths and Schistosoma sp was found to be 26%. Infection with Schistosoma mansoni was highest at a rate of 17.5%, that of hookworm and Ascaris lumbricoides was 5.6% and 4.6% respectively and the least was infection with Trichuris trichiura at 3.1%. Multiple infections were reported at the rate of 17.6% of the infected individuals. Malnutrition was prevalent, 27.5% of the sample population was underweight and 34.9% was stunted. A significant relationship existed between infection and malnutrition. The Chi-square test revealed a significant difference in stunting between the infected children and those with no infection (P < 0.05). A sub-sample of 103 pupils was assessed for anaemia. The prevalence of anaemia was found to be 44.1 % with boys being more anaemic than girls but the difference was not statistically significant. There was a relationship between infection and haemoglobin level with Schistosoma sp significantly causing anaemia more than the geohelminths (P < 0.05). The results of this study will act as a base for other researches and to advice the community on the importance of intervention measures that will give the child a sanitary environment.
- MST-Zoological Sciences