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Assessment of the Prevalence of Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections and Associated Risk Factors among School-Aged Children in a Flood-Affected Area of Northeast India

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  • 1 Department of Microbiology, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College & Hospital (FAAMCH), Barpeta, Assam, India;
  • | 2 Department of Pathology, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College & Hospital (FAAMCH), Barpeta, Assam, India;
  • | 3 Departmentof Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India;
  • | 4 Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

ABSTRACT.

Soil-transmitted helminthiasis is a major disease burden in developing countries, with a considerable share borne by India. Currently, the principal strategy of the World Health Organization for the control of soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) is mass deworming in the high-risk population based on the prevalence and intensity of infection in a region. However, the disease load of STH remains unknown in many regions. A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2017 among children in the age group of 5–13 years in Barpeta, Assam, to ascertain the prevalence of STH infection in school-aged children and its probable risk factors. Socio-demographic and epidemiologic data were gathered using a piloted questionnaire. Geohelminths were identified by the Kato–Katz method. Association with probable risk-factors was analyzed by binomial logistic regression. Overall, 16.3% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 12.9–19.8] of children were found to be infected with one or more of the three STHs. Ascaris, hookworm, and Trichuris infections were observed in 9.4%, 7.4%, and 5.3%, respectively. The strongest predictors for the presence of any STH with multivariable analysis were open defecation (habitual or occasional), lack of proper handwashing, living in homes affected by flood, and age group of 8–10 years. The availability of proper handwashing stations in schools was found to be protective against Trichuris. Awareness among the people regarding sanitation and personal hygiene, particularly in the post-flood scenario, is imperative for sustainable control of STH infections. Preventive deworming should be continued; however, the time and frequency must be adjusted according to the prevailing climatic conditions in the region under study.

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Author Notes

Address correspondence to Deepjyoti Kalita, Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Virbhadra Road, Rishikesh-249203, Uttarakhand, India. E-mail: dkalita@gmail.com

Authors’ addresses: Sangeeta Deka, Department of Microbiology, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College & Hospital (FAAMCH), Barpeta, Assam, India, and Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India, E-mail: drsangeeta2009@gmail.com. Dipankar Barua, Department of Pathology, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College & Hospital (FAAMCH), Barpeta, Assam, India, E-mail: dipankarbaruahfaamch@gmail.com. Yogesh Bahurupi, Department of Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India, E-mail: yogeshbrishikesh@gmail.com. Deepjyoti Kalita, Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India, E-mail: dkalita@gmail.com.

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