Author(s): DadaAdegbola HO, Oluwatoba AO, Falade CO
Impairment of physical and mental development has been identified as deleterious effects of helminthic infection. As a result, there have been concerted efforts to control this group of diseases especially among children who are most vulnerable. However, knowing the prevalence of multiple infections will strengthen or otherwise justify the use of broad spectrum antihelminthics in the prophylaxis and treatment of intestinal helminthes among children. This study was carried out in a farming community with no tarred access road, electricity or pipe-borne water. The diagnosis of intestinal helminthes was by Kato-Katz thick smear examination technique. One hundred and seventy stool samples from 88 male and 82 female children were examined. The mean age of the children was 8 +/- 1.6years. One hundred and sixteen of 170 (68.2%) of the study volunteers had one intestinal helminthic infection or the other. Co-infection by more than one helminth was not uncommon and this occurred in 49.1% of the infected population while 35.4%, 11.2% and 2.6% had double, triple and quadruple infections respectively. Ascaris lumbricoides and hookworm were the most common combinations observed in the study 52.6%, followed by the combination of A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura 17.5%. The triad of A. lumbricoides, hookworm and T. trichiura accounted for 12.3% among the multiply infected population. However, quadruple infection with A. lumbricoides, hookworm, T. trichliura and E. vernlicularis had 2.6% prevalence rate among the study population. Ascaris lumbricoides is the most prevalent among all the children, with a prevalence of 81.6%, 63.3% and 52.4% among children aged 12 -17years, 6-11 years and 0-5 years respectively. In conclusion, the presence of multiple infections especially of Ascaris lumbricoides and hookworm in almost 26% of the study population and multiple infections in 49.1% of the infected population justified the use of broadspectrum antihelminthics in the management of helminthiasis among school children of the rural community. Thus treatment and mass chemotherapy directed at school children will be a step in the right direction.