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Int J Epidemiol. 1999 Feb;28(1):169-74.

Nematode intestinal parasites of children in rural Guinea, Africa: prevalence and relationship to geophagia.

Author information

1
Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1243, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Intestinal parasitism is common among children in developing countries, but the risk factors for infection are not well characterized.

METHODS:

A stool examination was performed on 286 randomly selected children aged 1-18 years from three rural villages in Guinea, Africa. Information collected by questionnaire was used to examine the relationship between geophagia and infection with intestinal nematodes acquired by ingestion versus skin penetration.

RESULTS:

Fifty-three per cent of children were infected by at least one type of soil-transmitted nematode. Geophagia was reported by parents to occur in 57%, 53%, and 43%, of children ages 1-5, 6-10, and 11-18 years, respectively. The pattern of geophagia by age and gender of the children more closely resembled the infection pattern for the two orally acquired and soil-transmitted nematodes (Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura) than it did the infection pattern for the two soil-transmitted nematodes that infect by skin penetration (hookworm, Strongyloides stercoralis).

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings demonstrate that geophagia is an important risk factor for orally acquired nematode infections in African children. Education regarding geophagia prevention should be an integral component of any soil-transmitted parasite control programme.

PIP:

Intestinal parasites are routinely found among children in developing countries, but the risk factors of such infection are poorly characterized. The stools of 286 randomly selected children aged 1-18 years from 3 rural villages in Guinea were examined. Data collected via questionnaire were then analyzed to assess the relationship between geophagia, the regular ingestion of soil, and infection with intestinal nematodes acquired through ingestion rather than through skin penetration. 53% of children were infected with at least 1 type of soil-transmitted nematode, and geophagia was reported by parents to occur in 57%, 53%, and 43% of children aged 1-5, 6-10, and 11-18 years, respectively. The pattern of geophagia by age and gender of the children more closely resembled the infection pattern for the 2 orally acquired and soil-transmitted nematodes Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura than it did the infection pattern for the 2 soil-transmitted nematodes which infect by penetrating the skin, hookworm and Strongyloides stercoralis. Geophagia is therefore an important risk factor for orally acquired nematode infections among African children, and education on geophagia prevention should be an integral component of all soil-transmitted parasite control programs.

PMID:
10195684
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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