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Background: Human intestinal parasites steadily constitute a source of impaired growth and development, and among the leading causes of death of children in developing countries. Consistent epidemiological studies are imperative to identify high-risk populations.
Aim: This study sought to ascertain the occurrence of intestinal parasites among primary school children in St. Peter Primary School, Bendi 1, a rural community in Cross River State of Nigeria, as a preliminary step towards evidence-based intervention.
Methodology: Stool specimen was collected from 132 pupils who were available to enroll in the study. Samples were analysed macroscopically and microscopically using direct saline wet mount method and Formaline-ethyl acetate concentration technique. Socio-demographic data of pupils were collected through a pretested questionnaire.
Results: Overall prevalence of 56.1% of intestinal helminths and protozoans was recorded; including Entamoeba histolytica as the most common, (43.7%), Hookworm, (31.1%), Ascaris lumbricoides, (14.6%), Giardia lamblia (5.8%), Schistosoma mansoni, (2.9%), and Enterobius vermicularis, (1.9%). Prevalence was higher in males (54.1%). The age group 1-5 years was the least infected, but infection reduced with age from the highest prevalence of 67% among 6-10 years age range to 31.1% among pupils 11-15 years old. Age-related infection was statistically significant (P = 0.05). The prevalence of polyparasitism was 36.5%.
Conclusion: A high prevalence of intestinal parasite infection was identified among pupils. School children could be a focus of infection in the community. This finding presents an alarming need for intervention in Bendi community.