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Prevalence of Soil-transmitted Helminths in Primary School Playgrounds in Edo State, Southern Nigeria.

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Schoolchildren in primary schools are mostly at risk of acquiring soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) infections due to their habits (geophagy, onychophagy and playing with barefoot). Profiling soil parasites on school playgrounds is expected to provide an insight to an array of parasites schoolchildren are constantly at risk of acquiring; and this information could guide on intervention programmes. Soil samples from sixteen primary school playgrounds in Edo State (South-South, Nigeria) were collected over a six-month period both in the dry (January, February and March) and wet (May, June and July) seasons in 2018 and early 2019. Samples were processed and analysed following standard parasitological procedures. Of the 576 soil samples collected, 318(55.2 %) were positive with one or more soil parasites. Generally, the predominant parasites recovered from the total number of soil samples collected were: Ascaris 127(22 %), Strongyloides 111(19.27 %) and hookworm 50(8.68 %). Ascaris was most preponderant in the dry season, while Strongyloides was the most occurring in the wet season. The mean differences in the parasite load for Ascaris and hookworm between dry and wet seasons were not significant; while for Strongyloides it was higher in the wet than dry season. These results could be a consequence of observed poor state of toilet/sanitary facilities as well as the lack or poor state of basic infrastructure like proper drainage and waste disposal systems in the host communities. There is therefore urgent need to interrupt the STHs transmission cycles in the environment and possibly in schoolchildren by instituting sustainable intervention programmes within schools located in STHs endemic regions like southern Nigeria.

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