Knowledge And Perception of Hookworm Infection Among Primary School Students In Nigeria
1.1 Background of the Study
Hookworm infection in humans is caused by helminth nematode parasites Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale and is acquired through contact with contaminated soil (Hotez et al., 2004). Hookworm infection is widespread in tropical and subtropical parts of the world and is rampant particularly in impoverished countries. In the Philippines, the prevalence of hookworm infection nationwide ranged from 40% to 61%, varying only by province (Cabrera, 1998; Shaw et al., 2010).
Hookworm infection has many public health consequences but the major public health consequence is iron deficiency anemia (Awasthi et al., 2003; Bundy et al., 2004; Crompton and Nesheim, 2002; Farid et al., 1968; Hotez et al., 2004; Larocque et al., 2005; Stoltzfuz et al., 1996). Anemia caused by hookworm infection among pregnant women can cause adverse effects on the outcome of pregnancy (Allen, 2000; Bundy et al., 2004). Among infants and pre-school children, hookworm disease can result in growth stunting (Crompton and Nesheim, 2002) and behavioral deficits (Bundy et al., 2004; Farid et al., 1968; Hotez et al., 2004). Anemia caused by hookworm infection in school children may also adversely affect their intellectual and cognitive development (Ezeamama et al., 2005; Hotez et. al, 2004; Kvaslig et al., 1991; Pollitt et al., 1989; Soewondo et al., 1998; Stoltzfus et al., 2001). Indeed, a child with hookworm infection is often sick and absent from school, and frequent absences inevitably impede his learning ability. The cumulative effect of hookworm disease in the development of a child has far-reaching consequences. Growth and behavior deficits, low development quotients, cognitive impairments and underachievement in the prime of the child’s life will substantially affect his ability to be productive in his adult years.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There are several factors which affect the development of hookworm infection. These factors have been shown to operate at different levels. Hookworm infection is influenced, not only by individual-level factors, but also by environmental factors. Despite the customary assumption that hookworm transmission is a simple matter of poor hygiene, hookworm transmission depends on many components of the environment that affect hookworm larval activity. The transmission is not solely dependent on poor personal cleanliness because the eggs or ova are not infective to man. In fact, if ova are not deposited in soil, transmission will not occur.
The typical persistent nature of hookworm infection can be attributed to personal hygiene practices of the human hosts as well as exposure of the etiologic agents to environment that favor the survival of the infective larvae. Hence, this study investigates, precisely, the relationship between environmental and individual characteristics with the risk of hookworm infection. It also examines the variability in the individual’s risk caused by the clustering of individuals in barangays and provinces. By simultaneously analyzing the correlates of hookworm infection on different levels, the study offers itself as a contribution to the body of research done on hookworm infection.