A community-based cross-sectional study of the epidemiology of onchocerciasis in unmapped villages for community directed treatment with ivermectin in Jimma Zone, southwestern Ethiopia.
BACKGROUND: Human onchocerciasis is a neglected tropical parasitic disease caused by Onchocerca volvulus (O. volvulus) that may result in devastating skin and eye morbidity. Even though the disease is targeted for elimination, there was little or no information on the level of onchocerciasis endemicity for implementation of community directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) in the current study area. Thus, this study aimed at investigating the epidemiology of onchocerciasis and the level of awareness towards the disease among communities living close to CDTI area, Jimma Zone, southwestern Ethiopia.
METHODS: A community based cross-sectional study was conducted from April 23 to May 22, 2012. Data on socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge, attitude and practice towards onchocerciasis were collected using semi-structured questionnaires. Clinical examination was undertaken for onchocercal skin diseases by experienced health professionals. Moreover, two skin snip samples were collected from the right and left gluteal folds. Study participants found positive for O. volvulus infection during the study were treated individually with standard dose of ivermectin as per WHO guideline.
RESULTS: The overall prevalence of O. volvulus infection was 22.5 % while the prevalence of onchocercal skin diseases was 29.8 %. The community microfilarial (mf) load was 5.70 mf per skin snip. Age, sex, educational status, occupation and duration of stay in the villages showed significant association with onchocerciasis (P < 0.05). But sex (OR = 0.565, 95 % CI = 0.335, 0.952), educational status (OR = 0.545, 95 % CI = 0.310, 0.958) and duration of stay in the village (OR = 5.933, 95 % CI = 1.017, 34.626) were the independent predictors for O. volvulus infection. Three hundred eighty eight (88.2 %) of the study participants reported that they didn't know about onchocerciasis.
CONCLUSIONS: There was moderate prevalence of onchocercal infection and onchocercial skin diseases (OSD) in the study area. Result of this study may suggest that the endemicity level of onchocerciasis in the study area was mesoendemic. Hence, intervention using ivermectin treatment should be implemented to reduce the burden of onchocerciasis. Since the majorities of the population had poor knowledge, attitude and practice towards onchocerciasis, inclusion of health education in the intervention package is crucial.