Original Research

Prevalence and intensity of neglected tropical diseases (schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths) amongst rural female pupils in Ugu district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Siphosenkosi G. Zulu, Eyrun F. Kjetland, Svein G. Gundersen, Myra Taylor
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 35, No 1 | a123 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v35i1.123 | © 2020 Siphosenkosi G. Zulu, Eyrun F. Kjetland, Svein G. Gundersen, Myra Taylor | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2019 | Published: 03 June 2020

About the author(s)

Siphosenkosi G. Zulu, Discipline of Public Health Medicine, Department of Medical Microbiology, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Eyrun F. Kjetland, Norwegian Centre for Imported and Tropical Diseases, Department of Infectious Diseases, Oslo University Hospital Ullevaal, Oslo, Norway; and Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
Svein G. Gundersen, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; and Research Unit, Sorlandet Hospital, Kristiansand, Norway; and Department of Global Development and Planning, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway
Myra Taylor, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Inadequate water supply and sanitation adversely affects the health and socio-economic development of communities and places them at risk of contracting schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths (STHs). The aim of this study was to quantify the prevalence and intensity of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) and STHs amongst female school-going pupils in Ugu district.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in Ugu district amongst primary school pupils from 18 randomly selected schools in 2010. A structured questionnaire was used to collect information on the history and knowledge of bilharzia of 1057 pupils. One stool and 3 consecutive days of urine samples were collected per participant and screened for helminth ova. Findings were compared with those reported by the parasite control programme, which collected data in the same area in 1998.

Results: The prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura was 25% and 26%, respectively, and their corresponding mean intensities of infection were 21 and 26 eggs per gram. The prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium was 32%, and its mean intensity of infection was 52 eggs per 10 mL urine. Of the pupils, 60% knew about schistosomiasis, 9% reported red urine in the past week and 22% had had dysuria before. Although the prevalence of ascariasis and trichuriasis had decreased since 1998 (62% and 59%, respectively), the prevalence of schistosomiasis had increased to 32% (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Female pupils in rural schools remain at risk. A mass treatment campaign, increased public awareness and improved sanitation are required to reduce these infections and sustain a reduction of STHs and schistosomiasis.


Keywords

prevalence; intensity; schistosomiasis; soil-transmitted helminths; Ascaris lumbricoides; Trichuris trichiura; Schistosoma haematobium; parasite control programme; water contact.

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