Objective: To determine the prevalence of worm infestation among schoolchildren of a rural community of Islamabad.
Methodology: This cross-sectional study was conducted at two primary schools of rural Islamabad and Shifa College of Medicine, Islamabad, from August to November 2015. Schoolchildren and their mothers were interviewed about their knowledge of hygiene, personal hygiene habits and sanitary conditions in their households. Stool specimens of the children were examined for ova and cysts using the formal-ether concentration technique. Descriptive statistics were calculated for both qualitative and quantitative variables.
Results: A total of 441 children were enrolled; males and females were equal. Mean age was 8.95±2.4 years. They belonged to lower socioeconomic group. Half the households (47%) had flush toilets, while the rest used pit-hole latrines. There was no sewerage system in the village and human waste emptied into nearby streams. 400 (90.7%) households used tap water, which was not boiled before consumption. Meat was procured from village butcher shops, which was locally slaughtered without inspection by public health authorities. Majority of children (94%) had adequate knowledge about personal hygiene such as hand washing, which was practised by 97% of them. 191 children provided stool specimens; 140 (73%) contained ova/cysts of intestinal parasites. Taenia saginata was the commonest parasite identified in 125 (89.3%) cases.
Conclusion: The high prevalence of taeniasis in schoolchildren in our study highlights the poor public health practices in our community.
Key words: Child, public health, epidemiology, intestinal parasites, Taenia saginata.