Background: Helminthiasis is a sub group of the neglected tropical diseases that is still persisting in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa and is a major cause of chronic morbidity with associated poor intellectual and physical growth in children. Children are the most affected group, probably, due to their poor hygienic practices and poor play habits. This study determined the prevalence of helminth infections and disparities in the hygienic, sanitary conditions and health behaviors among schoolage children living in two selected communities in Ghana. Methods and findings: This was a cross-sectional study conducted in fishing (n=84) and farming (n=80) communities in the Kwahu Afram Plains South District in the Eastern Region of Ghana among school-age children using structured questionnaires and laboratory analysis. One hundred and sixty-four (164) pupils (2 schools each from fishing and farming communities) participated in the study comprising 50.6% males and 49.4% females, as well as their parents or primary caregivers. About 9.6% Soiltransmitted helminths (STH) were observed in the farming communities with none recorded in the fishing communities (p=0.007). Conversely, 33.8% of S. haematobium infection occurred in the fishing compared to 1.2% in the farming community (p<0.0001). About 48.8% of all children obtained their drinking water from the Afram River compared to 51.2% from boreholes. Overall, 31.7% of all children lived close to a water source, with 48.8% versus 13.8% being in the farming and fishing communities respectively (p<0.0001). Handwashing after toilet use was reported by 61.0% participants with 86.9% versus 33.8% of children within the farming and fishing communities engaging in this practice respectively (p<0.0001). Conclusions: Poor hygienic practices and sanitary conditions were more prevalent in the fishing communities than in the farming communities. S. haematobium infection was significantly higher among the fishing communities while STH infections solely occurred among children in the farming communities. The best predictors for schistosome infections were swimming in the river, water storage method, farming activities, and source of drinking water.
Tandoh MA, Mills-Robertson FC, Wilson MD, Anderson AK
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