The effect of improved water and sanitation on the prevalence of schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminths (STH) amongst female primary school aged children in Ugu District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Background: Inadequate water supply and sanitation adversely affect the health and socio-economic development of communities and place them at risk of contracting S. haematobium and soil transmitted helminths (STH). AIM. The aim of the study was to determine if improved water and sanitation infrastructure has had an impact on the prevalence and intensity of schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminths in female pupils aged 10-12 years attending primary schools in Ugu district, KwaZulu-Natal. METHODS. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in Ugu district amongst primary school pupils from 18 randomly selected. Kato-Katz and urine centrifugation techniques were used to analyze stool and urine samples respectively. A structured questionnaire was used to collect water contact information, and one stool sample and three consecutive day’s urine samples, were collected from each participant. Information on sanitation and water infractructure in communities was obtained through interviews with community ward councillors. Same analysis were done on the data from 1998 Parasite Control Programme (PCP) and findings used to compare with current study’s findings. Results. Amongst the 1057 pupils interviewed, prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura was 25% and 26% respectively, and corresponding mean intensities of infections were 21 and 26 eggs per gram. The prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium was 32.2% and the mean intensity of infection was 60 eggs/10ml. When asked whether pupils knew about schistosomiasis, whether they had had red urine in the past week and if they had ever had dysuria, 60%, 9% and 22% respectively, answered in the affirmative. The 15 Ugu ward councillors reported improved access to safe water and sanitation. CONCLUSION. Improved service delivery is likely to have contributed to reduced prevalence of STHs. However, a third of the study samples and a quarter of the study sample was infected with S. haematobium and STHs respectively.
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