a1 Department of Zoology, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College, University of Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
a2 Department of Zoology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
a3 HIV/AIDS Research and Policy Institute, Chicago State University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
a4 Scottish Parasite Diagnostic Laboratory, Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow G21 3UK, UK
The objective of this cross-sectional study was to determine the prevalence and intensity of soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) in children aged 0–25 months and to identify the associated risk factors for Ascaris lumbricoides infections. The study was conducted in three villages outside Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria in May/June 2005. Stool samples (369) were processed by formol-ether concentration. Ascaris lumbricoides (12.2%) was the dominant infection. Age, father's occupation and dog ownership were identified as the significant risk factors in the minimal adequate model for A. lumbricoides. The odds of being infected with A. lumbricoides increased as the children got older. Children aged 12–17 months and 18–25 months were 8.8 and 12.4 times, respectively, more likely to harbour Ascaris than those aged 7–11 months. The odds of harbouring Ascaris for children whose families owned a dog were 3.5 times that of children whose families did not own a dog. Children whose fathers were businessmen were 0.4 times less likely to be infected with Ascaris than those whose fathers were farmers. The findings from this study suggest that many of these young children, who are at a critical stage of development, are infected with Ascaris and that the prevalence of infection with this parasite increases with age. This study has highlighted the need to incorporate preschool children into deworming programmes in endemic regions and to investigate innovative ways of delivering cost-effective deworming treatment to this high-risk age group.
(Accepted November 19 2008)
(Online publication April 15 2009)