Intestinal parasitic infection and nutritional status among school children in Angolela, Ethiopia


ntroduction. Gastrointestinal parasitic infections are most prevalent in populations with low household income, poor han- dling of personal and environmental sanitation, overcrowding, and limited access to clean water. We conducted this study to esti- mate the prevalence of parasitic infection and nutritional status, and to evaluate the extent to which the two are associated among schoolchildren in rural Ethiopia. Methods. This is a cross sectional study of 664 students aged from 6 to 19 years old from Angolela, Ethiopia. Socio-demo- graphic information was collected using a structured question- naire. Anthropometric measurements were taken at the time of interview. Examinations of fecal samples for helminthic and pro- tozoan parasitic infections were performed. Logistic regression procedures were employed to evaluate the association between stunting, underweightedness, and wasting with parasitic infec- tions. Results. One-third of the participants were found to have a protozoan infection, while 7.1% were found to have a helminhic infection. Approximately 11% of the students were stunted, 19.6% were wasted, and 20.8% were underweight. Severely underweight boys were 3.88-times as likely as boys of adequate weight (odds ratio OR = 3.88, 95% confidence interval CI: 1.12- 13.52) to be diagnosed with protozoan infections. Among girls, those who were severely stunted were approximately 12 times (OR = 11.84, 95%CI: 1.72-81.62) as likely to be infected with a helminthic parasite, than those who were not. Overall, there was a deficit in normal growth patterns as indicated by lower than average anthropometric measures. Discussion and conclusions. There is a high prevalence of intes- tinal parasitic infections. Stunting, wasting, and underweighted- ness were also prevalent, and showed patterns of associations with intestinal parasitic infections. Efforts should be made to strengthen and expand school and community-based programs that promote inexpensive, though effective, practices to prevent the spread of parasitic diseases. Initiatives aimed at improving the nutritional status of school children are also needed.