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Prevalence and intensity of neglected tropical diseases (schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths) amongst rural female pupils in Ugu district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Background: Inadequate water supply and sanitation adversely affects the health and socio-economic development of communities and places them at risk of contracting schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths (STHs). The aim of this study was to quantify the prevalence and intensity of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) and STHs amongst female school-going pupils in Ugu district.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in Ugu district amongst primary school pupils from 18 randomly selected schools in 2010. A structured questionnaire was used to collect information on the history and knowledge of bilharzia of 1057 pupils. One stool and 3 consecutive days of urine samples were collected per participant and screened for helminth ova. Findings were compared with those reported by the parasite control programme, which collected data in the same area in 1998.

Results: The prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura was 25% and 26%, respectively, and their corresponding mean intensities of infection were 21 and 26 eggs per gram. The prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium was 32%, and its mean intensity of infection was 52 eggs per 10 mL urine. Of the pupils, 60% knew about schistosomiasis, 9% reported red urine in the past week and 22% had had dysuria before. Although the prevalence of ascariasis and trichuriasis had decreased since 1998 (62% and 59%, respectively), the prevalence of schistosomiasis had increased to 32% (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Female pupils in rural schools remain at risk. A mass treatment campaign, increased public awareness and improved sanitation are required to reduce these infections and sustain a reduction of STHs and schistosomiasis.

More information

Journal Article
Zulu SG
Kjetland EF
Gundersen SG
Taylor M
Year of Publication
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases
ISSN Number
2313-1810, 2312-0053
Publication Language