Introduction: soil-transmitted helminths (STH) infection remains a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa with children being most vulnerable. STH infection may result in impairment, permanent disability or death. Annual mass deworming has been implemented in the Tiko Health District (THD), however, no study has assessed the current prevalence of STH infection. This study aimed to determine the prevalence, intensity of STH infections and associated risk factors among school children.
Methods: two months after the school deworming exercise, 400 children were sampled from 10 schools in THD. Stool samples were collected and analyzed using the Kato-katz technique. Data on socio-demographic and behavioral factors were collected using questionnaires. Data were analyzed using SPSS and intensity of infection categorized following WHO recommendations. Descriptive data were calculated with frequencies (n) and proportions (%), prevalence and 95% confidence interval calculated for gender and age respectively. Differences in prevalence for socio-demographic characteristics and behavioral variables were calculated with Chi square (χ2). Independent sample t-test was used to compare the means in the number of eggs in feces between male and female school children.
Results: the prevalence of STH was 1% (95% CI: 0.02-1.98). Ascaris lumbricoides was the only STH species detected and all cases were of low intensities. The arithmetic mean egg intensity was 3.1egg per gram of faeces. Rates of infection were similar between gender and age. Site of defecation showed an association with STH infection (χ2= 13.63, p=0.03).
Conclusion: these findings suggested a low prevalence of STH infection which could be explained by the prior deworming of children, modification in environmental and behavioral factors. Questions on effectiveness of annual mass deworming in achieving STH elimination targets need to be investigated further.