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Background: Infections with intestinal parasites are a major public health problem in children in developing countries like Kenya. School going children are considered at most risk and are included in school-based de-worming program. Less focus is given to pre-school children and information is scarce about intestinal parasitosis among this age group. In this study, we determined the prevalence and intensity of protozoa and helminth infections, and associated risk factors in an informal settlement.
Methods: A community based cross-sectional study was conducted from October 2016 to January 2017 among 406 children aged 2-5 years in Kibera informal settlements in Nairobi County, Kenya. Structured interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to collect sociodemographic information and data on associated factors. Stool samples were examined microscopically using formal ether concentration, iodine wet mounting, modified Ziehl-Neelsen staining, and Kato-Katz methods. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify risk factors associated with intestinal parasites.
Results: The overall prevalence of any helminth and protozoa infections was 13.1% (53/406) and 22.4% (91/406) respectively. The predominant parasites were Giardia lamblia (13.8%), Ascaris lumbricoides (11.3%), Entamoeba histolytica/dispar (9.4%), Trichuris trichiura (3.9%), Entamoeba coli (1.5%) and hookworm (0.2%). Prevalence of co-infection with any helminths or protozoan was 2.7%. About 10.8% (44/406) and 20.7% (84/406) children were infected with single species of helminth and protozoan parasites. All helminth infections were light, with a mean intensity of 592 egg per gram. Intensity of any protozoan infections was heavy 62.6% (57/406). Dirt floors in the household (aOR = 2.22, p = .046), dirty toilets (aOR = 2.33, p=.014), water from communal taps (aOR = 0.27, p=.019), parent’s education level (aOR =0.27, p=.032) and parent’s earning (aOR =3.34, p=.007) were factors significantly associated with intestinal parasites.
Conclusion: The study found both helminth and protozoan parasites to be prevalent among pre-school aged children in Kibera. Intervention measures including education on the improvement of hygiene and health, socio-economic conditions, sanitation, and provision of safe drinking water could reduce the prevalence of these infections.