Development and Evaluation of a Health Education Intervention against Taenia solium in a Rural Community in Mexico

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  • Direccion General de Epidemiologia, Secretaria de Salud, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Instituto Nacional de Diagnostico y Referencia Epidemiologicos, Secretaria de Salud, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Salford, International Development Research Center, Mexico City, Mexico

A comprehensive study was undertaken in a rural community in the state of Morelos, Mexico to evaluate health education as an intervention measure against Taenia solium. An educational program was developed to promote recognition and knowledge of the transmission of the parasite and to improve hygienic behavior and sanitary conditions that foster transmission. The effects of educational intervention were evaluated by measuring changes in knowledge and practices and prevalence of human taeniasis and swine cysticercosis before and after the campaign. The health education strategy was implemented with the active participation of the population based on the information obtained from a sociologic study. A questionnaire was designed and used before, immediately after the intervention, and six months later. Statistically significant improvements occurred in knowledge of the parasite, its life cycle, and how it is acquired by humans; however, changes in behavior related to transmission were less dramatic and persistent. The prevalences of cysticercosis in pigs at the start of the education intervention were 2.6% and 5.2% by lingual examination and antibody detection (immunoblot assay), respectively, and approximately one year after the intervention they were 0% and 1.2% (P < 0.05). These changes were accompanied by significant reductions in the reported access of pigs to sources of infection and freedom to roam. We conclude that health education, developed along with community involvement, reduced opportunities for transmission of T. solium in the human-pig cycle.