Polyparasitism with Schistosoma haematobium and soil-transmitted helminth infections among school children in Loum, Cameroon
Prevalence and abundance of Schistosoma haematobium and soil-transmitted helminths (STH) were assessed among a total of 1600 pupils (urine, n = 1190; faecal samples, n = 1454) attending five schools in Loum, Littoral Province, Cameroon, with the specific aim of assessing the extent of polyparasitism and the extent to which infections were focused in particular subsets of the study group. Prevalence of S. haematobium was 62.8% with an abundance (arithmetic mean of egg counts) of 54 eggs/10 ml urine. For the STH these were 47.7% and 619 eggs per gram of faeces (EPG) for Trichuris trichiura, 65.5% and 3636 EPG for Ascaris lumbricoides, and 1.4% and <0.1 EPG for hookworms. Most children (90.3%) were infected with at least one of these four species, the largest proportion (34.3%) carrying two species; 27.4% carried three and 1.1% carried concurrently all four species of parasites. The average number of species harboured increased with age, as did the prevalences of S. haematobium and T. trichiura but not that of A. lumbricoides. All STH showed marked differences in prevalence between the five schools but only T. trichiura varied significantly between sexes. Mean abundance of infection varied significantly between age classes, among schools and between the sexes, with females showing heavier mean EPGs for A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura and males higher mean eggs/10 ml urine for S. haematobium infections. A highly significant association was detected between A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura, that was not context-dependent. This was confirmed in quantitative analyses after controlling for differences in abundance between schools, sexes and age classes. A weaker context-dependent association (prevalence data) was detected between S. haematobium and A. lumbricoides (sex- and age-dependent) but quantitative associations between these two species, as well as between S. haematobium and T. trichiura, were not convincing.