Intestinal helminthiasis and malnutrition amongst school children in Homa Bay district, Kenya
This study examined the relationship between intestinal helminthiasis and nutritional status of primary school children in Roma bay District in south western Kenya. stool specimens 'from a<representati~e sample of 659 children were examined for helminthic parasites and the results collated with anthropometric data. About 44% of the" study population tested positive for at least one intestinal helminth, however the infections were generally of light intensities with only four" children being classified as heavily infected. Multiple worm infestations were reported in 29.i% of the infected individuals. At a prevalence of 19%, Ascaris lumbricoides was the commonest helminthic infection followed by hookworm at 16.1%, Trichuris trichuria at 11.2%, Schistosoma mansoni at 11.1%, Taenia ssp. at 0.9% and finally Enterobius vermicularis at 0.8%. No association was demonstrable between" intestinal helminthiasis and the anthropometric indices of nutritional status. The overall vitamin A status of the study population was satisfactory, but the mean serum vitamin A level for the ascaris infected children was significantly lower than that for the non-infected controls (p < 0.01) and a negative correlation was demonstrated between wormload and serum vitamin A. This shows that ascariasis can impair micronutrient status in the absence of any anthropometrically detectable adverse nutritional effect. It is therefore recommended that ascaris control be an integral part of vitamin A deficiency control programmes in areas where avitaminosis A and ascariasis co-exist.