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The effect of compliance to Hand hygiene during COVID-19 on intestinal parasitic infection and intensity of soil transmitted helminthes, among patients attending general hospital, southern Ethiopia: Observational study


Background Intestinal parasitic infection (IPIs) is one of the major health problems in Sub -Saharan Africa where water, sanitation and hygiene practices are inadequate. Taking into account the national level implementation of intensive hand hygiene against COVID-19 pandemic and general protective effect this study assessed its effect on intestinal parasite.

Objective This study aim to investigate the effect of compliance to hand hygiene practice on the prevalence of intestinal parasitic infection (IPIs) and intensity of Soil transmitted helminthes (STH) among patients attending tertiary care hospital in southern Ethiopia. Methods Observational study was conducted from June to September 2021. Data on socio demographic, hand hygiene practice and intestinal parasite (prevalence and intensity of helminthic infection) was collected from randomly selected and consented patients. Compliance to hand hygiene practice was assessed using pre-tested questionnaire. Fresh stool sample from each participant was examined by direct wet mount, concentration and Ziehl-Neelson (ZN) staining technique to detect intestinal parasite. Intensity of STH measurements was done through direct egg-count per gram using Kato Katz methods. Data analysis was done using SPSS version 25. Odds ratio with 95% confidence interval was used to measure association and p-value <0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Results The study population (N = 264) consisted of 139(52.65%) male and 125 (47.34%) female with the mean ages of 36 ±16.12(±SD). The proportion of good compliance to hand hygiene during COVID-19 to was 43.93% (95%CI: 37% to 47) and prevalence of intestinal parasite was 26.14% (95%CI:21.2% to 31.75) comprising 23.48% intestinal protozoa and 6.43% of soil transmitted helminthic infection. Gardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica/dispar, Ascaris lumbricoides were the common parasite in the study area with prevalence of 15.53%, 6.44%, and 1.52% respectively. Prevalence of intestinal parasite among participants with good compliance to hand hygiene group and poor compliance to hand hygiene were (14.65% vs. 35.13%)(AOR: 0.48,95%CI:0.13 to 0.68) (p = 0.002) implying that good compliance to hand hygiene can reduce the risk of IPIs by 52%. Moreover significantly lower odds of intestinal protozoa among good compliance to hand hygiene group than the control (OR:0.38; (95%CI: 0.20 to 0.71);P = 0.001. However, no significant difference in the odds of intensity of STH infection in good compliance hand hygiene and poor compliance group. The result of this study also confirmed the association between intestinal parasitic infections and younger /adolescent age, education status, habit of eating raw vegetable and figure nail status. Conclusion Good hand hygiene compliance during COVID-19 significantly associated with reduction of intestinal parasitic infection. This finding highlights the secondary protective effect of improved hand hygiene against IPIs and suggest it can used in augmenting the existing parasitic control strategies in the study setting.

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Journal Article
Seid M
Yohanes T
Goshu Y
Jemal K
Siraj M
Foroutan M