Parasitology

Review Article

Schistosomiasis in infants and pre-school-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa: implication for control

UWEM F. EKPOa1 c1, AKINOLA S. OLUWOLEa1, ENIOLA M. ABEa1, HANNAH E. ETTAa2, FRANCISCA OLAMIJUa3 and CHIEDU F. MAFIANAa4

a1 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Agriculture, PMB 2240, Abeokuta, 110001, Nigeria

a2 Department of Biological Sciences, Cross River University of Technology, Calabar, Nigeria

a3 Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH), 605, Hospital Place, Opposite Green Valley Suites, GRA, P.O. Box 205, Jos, 930001, Plateau State, Nigeria

a4 Office of the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Maitama District, Abuja, Nigeria

SUMMARY

Until recently, the epidemiology and control of schistosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa have focused primarily on infections in school-aged children and to a lesser extent on adults. Now there is growing evidence and reports of infection in infants and pre-school-aged children (≤6 years old) in Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Uganda, with reported prevalence from 14% to 86%. In this review, we provide available information on the epidemiology, transmission and control of schistosomiasis in this age group, generally not considered or included in national schistosomiasis control programmes that are being implemented in several sub-Saharan African countries. Contrary to previous assumptions, we show that schistosomiasis infection starts from early childhood in many endemic communities and factors associated with exposure of infants and pre-school-aged children to infection are yet to be determined. The development of morbidity early in childhood may contribute to long-term clinical impact and severity of schistosomiasis before they receive treatment. Consistently, these issues are overlooked in most schistosomiasis control programmes. It is, therefore, necessary to review current policy of schistosomiasis control programmes in sub-Saharan Africa to consider the treatment of infant and pre-school-aged children and the health education to mothers.

(Received August 18 2011)

(Revised November 08 2011)

(Revised December 29 2011)

(Accepted January 03 2012)

(Online publication February 08 2012)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Agriculture, PMB 2240, Abeokuta, 110001, Nigeria. Tel.: +234 802755 5689 (mobile). E-mail: ekpouf@unaab.edu.ng; ufekpo@hotmail.com

Metrics