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Parassitologia. 1998 Sep;40(3):259-67.

Malaria, schistosomiasis, and intestinal helminths in relation to microdams in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

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Department for the Control of Malaria and Other Vector Borne Diseases, Tigray Health Bureau, Ethiopia.


A survey was undertaken in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, to assess the prevalence of malaria, schistosomiasis, and intestinal helminths in relation to microdams. The survey took place from March to June 1995, during the dry season, at 41 microdams. At each site the village nearest the dam (within thirty minutes walk) was selected, ten households were randomly chosen, and all family members were examined for malaria and intestinal parasites. The overall study sample was 2271 people, of all age groups. Plasmodium falciparum infection was documented in four villages (at 10% of microdams); prevalence was 1.2% (range 0-20% by village). Larvae of Anopheles gambiae s.l. were found at one microdam. Infection with intestinal schistosomiasis was documented in 20 villages (at 49% of microdams), and one third of those infected had moderate to heavy infections. Biomphalaria species, the intermediate host snails of Schistosoma mansoni, were found at 16 microdams (39%), and snails infected by mammalian cercariae were found in one locality. Infections with soil-transmitted nematodes were prevalent: hookworm was detected in more than two thirds of the villages, and Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura were present in almost half of the villages. Out of 2078 stool examinations, the prevalence of S. mansoni infection was 7.2% (range 0-48% by village), of A. lumbricoides 2.3% (range 0-31%), of T. trichiura 2.4% (range 0-21%), and of hookworm 8.9% (range 0-78%). The prevalence of malaria, S. mansoni and hookworm was higher at altitudes below 2000 metres above sea level. S. mansoni was more prevalent in microdams built more than 5 years before the survey, while T. trichiura was more prevalent at recently constructed microdams. The widespread distribution of schistosomiasis and intestinal helminths, and the presence of malaria infection during the dry season confirm that microdams create favourable conditions for the transmission of these parasitic diseases. Health safeguards must be incorporated into the planning, construction, and operation of microdams and irrigation systems in order to prevent or reduce these diseases. In areas with high prevalence, control activities should be intensified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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