Journal of Helminthology

Research Papers

The epidemiology of soil-transmitted helminth and protozoan infections in south-west Cameroon

J.V. Mbuha1 c1, N.H. Ntonifora1 and J. Ojonga1

a1 Department of Plant and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Buea, Cameroon

Abstract

A cross-sectional study of the prevalence, intensity and effects of soil-transmitted helminth and protozoan infections was undertaken among patients at the Buea Hospital Annex located in Buea sub-division of Cameroon. Stool samples from 356 subjects (174 males and 182 females) were collected and processed using standard concentration methods. Our results showed that 31.0% of subjects were infected with intestinal helminths and the prevalence was higher in females (32.4%) than in males (30.5%). A significantly higher prevalence was observed in rural (47.2%) than in urban areas (21.0%); significance < 0.1%. Prevalence was highest among those aged between 6 and 12 years (41.4%). The total prevalence of intestinal helminth infections were 19.3% for Ascaris lumbricoides, 14.0% for hookworm and 11.8% for Trichuris trichiura. The intensity of infection was unevenly distributed, with very heavy loads concentrated in a few individuals. Data also showed that 28.1% (100/356) of the subjects were infected with protozoans. Females showed a higher prevalence (28.6%; 52/182) than males (20.7%; 36/174). Also, there was a significantly higher prevalence in rural (34.0%; 49/144) than urban areas (18.4%; 39/212); significance < 0.1%. The age group 6–12 years again had a higher prevalence (37.1%; 26/70). The total prevalence of intestinal protozoans was: Entamoeba histolytica (24.4%), Entamoeba coli (11.2%) and Giardia lamblia (0.6%). These relatively heavy prevalences in patients may be reduced by appropriate medication and maintaining strict personal hygiene. Health education, clean water supply, good sewage management and a congenial environment will all help to minimize infection.

(Received April 05 2009)

(Accepted December 13 2010)

(Online publication January 31 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 E-mail: judithmbuh@yahoo.com