Spatial distribution of soil-transmitted helminths, including Strongyloides stercoralis, among children in Zanzibar

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Stefanie Knopp
Khalfan A. Mohammed
I. Simba Khamis
Ali F. Mgeni
J. Russell Stothard
David Rollinson
Hanspeter Marti
Jürg Utzinger *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Jürg Utzinger | juerg.utzinger@unibas.ch

Abstract

A programme periodically distributing anthelminthic drugs to school-aged children for the control of soiltransmitted helminthiasis was launched in Zanzibar in the early 1990s. We investigated the spatial distribution of soiltransmitted helminth infections, including Strongyloides stercoralis, in 336 children from six districts in Unguja, Zanzibar, in 2007. One stool sample per child was examined with the Kato-Katz, Koga agar plate and Baermann methods. The point prevalence of the different helminth infections was compared to the geological characteristics of the study sites. The observed prevalences for Trichuris trichiura, Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm and S. stercoralis were 35.5%, 12.2%, 11.9% and 2.2%, respectively, with considerable spatial heterogeneity. Whilst T. trichiura and hookworm infections were found in all six districts, no A. lumbricoides infections were recorded in the urban setting and only a low prevalence (2.2%) was observed in the South district. S. stercoralis infections were found in four districts with the highest prevalence (4.0%) in the West district. The prevalence of infection with any soil-transmitted helminth was highest in the North A district (69.6%) and lowest in the urban setting (22.4%). A. lumbricoides, hookworm and, with the exception of the North B district, S. stercoralis infections were observed to be more prevalent in the settings north of Zanzibar Town, which are characterized by alluvial clayey soils, moist forest regions and a higher precipitation. After a decade of large-scale administration of anthelminthic drugs, the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infections across Unguja is still considerable. Hence, additional measures, such as improving access to adequate sanitation and clean water and continued health education, are warranted to successfully control soil-transmitted helminthiasis in Zanzibar.

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