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      Low Levels of Awareness Despite High Prevalence of Schistosomiasis among Communities in Nyalenda Informal Settlement, Kisumu City, Western Kenya

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          Intestinal schistosomiasis is widely distributed around Lake Victoria in Kenya where about 16 million people in 56 districts are at risk of the infection with over 9.1 million infected. Its existence in rural settings has been extensively studied compared to urban settings where there is limited information about the disease coupled with low level of awareness. This study therefore assessed community awareness on existence, signs and symptoms, causes, transmission, control and risk factors for contracting schistosomiasis as well as attitudes, health seeking behaviour and environmental antecedents that affect its control so as to identify knowledge gaps that need to be addressed in order to strengthen schistosomiasis control interventions in informal urban settings.


          The study was carried out in an informal urban settlement where the prevalence of intestinal schistosomiasis was previously reported to be the highest (36%) among the eight informal settlements of Kisumu city. The study adopted cross-sectional design and purposive sampling technique. Eight focus group discussions were conducted with adult community members and eight key informant interviews with opinion leaders. Data was audio recorded transcribed, coded and thematically analyzed using ATLAS.ti version 6 software.


          Most respondents stated having heard about schistosomiasis but very few had the correct knowledge of signs and symptoms, causes, transmission and control of schistosomiasis. However, there was moderate knowledge of risk factors and at high risk groups. Their attitudes towards schistosomiasis and its control were generally indifferent with a general belief that they had no control over their environmental circumstances to reduce transmission.


          Although schistosomiasis was prevalent in the study area, majority of the people in the community had low awareness. This study, therefore, stresses the need for health education to raise community's awareness on schistosomiasis in such settings in order to augment prevention, control and elimination efforts.

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          Bilharzia also known as schistosomiasis is one of the neglected tropical diseases found in western part of Kenya. The major source of infection is Lake Victoria; however, there is evidence of inland transmission especially within the informal settlements of Kisumu city. Schistosomiasis can be controlled using three key approaches which include improved sanitation, health education and mass treatment with praziquantel. Additional interventions for infection prevention include: promotion of hygiene, access to safe water, and sanitation improvement and environmental management. However, the success of control initiatives involving the community depend on the level of the communities' uptake of the program, which is hinged upon understanding the community knowledge and practices towards the disease. This study therefore collected information from the community to assess level of awareness of schistosomiasis. The findings revealed a low level of awareness in spite of a high prevalence of schistosomiasis. These findings are invaluable in the designing of appropriate education messages targeted at raising community awareness on schistosomiasis and relevant behavioural change required for a successful control programme.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Schistosomiasis and water resources development: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimates of people at risk.

          An estimated 779 million people are at risk of schistosomiasis, of whom 106 million (13.6%) live in irrigation schemes or in close proximity to large dam reservoirs. We identified 58 studies that examined the relation between water resources development projects and schistosomiasis, primarily in African settings. We present a systematic literature review and meta-analysis with the following objectives: (1) to update at-risk populations of schistosomiasis and number of people infected in endemic countries, and (2) to quantify the risk of water resources development and management on schistosomiasis. Using 35 datasets from 24 African studies, our meta-analysis showed pooled random risk ratios of 2.4 and 2.6 for urinary and intestinal schistosomiasis, respectively, among people living adjacent to dam reservoirs. The risk ratio estimate for studies evaluating the effect of irrigation on urinary schistosomiasis was in the range 0.02-7.3 (summary estimate 1.1) and that on intestinal schistosomiasis in the range 0.49-23.0 (summary estimate 4.7). Geographic stratification showed important spatial differences, idiosyncratic to the type of water resources development. We conclude that the development and management of water resources is an important risk factor for schistosomiasis, and hence strategies to mitigate negative effects should become integral parts in the planning, implementation, and operation of future water projects.
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            Neglected Tropical Diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa: Review of Their Prevalence, Distribution, and Disease Burden

            The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are the most common conditions affecting the poorest 500 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and together produce a burden of disease that may be equivalent to up to one-half of SSA's malaria disease burden and more than double that caused by tuberculosis. Approximately 85% of the NTD disease burden results from helminth infections. Hookworm infection occurs in almost half of SSA's poorest people, including 40–50 million school-aged children and 7 million pregnant women in whom it is a leading cause of anemia. Schistosomiasis is the second most prevalent NTD after hookworm (192 million cases), accounting for 93% of the world's number of cases and possibly associated with increased horizontal transmission of HIV/AIDS. Lymphatic filariasis (46–51 million cases) and onchocerciasis (37 million cases) are also widespread in SSA, each disease representing a significant cause of disability and reduction in the region's agricultural productivity. There is a dearth of information on Africa's non-helminth NTDs. The protozoan infections, human African trypanosomiasis and visceral leishmaniasis, affect almost 100,000 people, primarily in areas of conflict in SSA where they cause high mortality, and where trachoma is the most prevalent bacterial NTD (30 million cases). However, there are little or no data on some very important protozoan infections, e.g., amebiasis and toxoplasmosis; bacterial infections, e.g., typhoid fever and non-typhoidal salmonellosis, the tick-borne bacterial zoonoses, and non-tuberculosis mycobaterial infections; and arboviral infections. Thus, the overall burden of Africa's NTDs may be severely underestimated. A full assessment is an important step for disease control priorities, particularly in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the greatest number of NTDs may occur.
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              Quantification of clinical morbidity associated with schistosome infection in sub-Saharan Africa.

              Health policy making in developing countries requires estimates of the (global) burden of disease. At present, most of the available data on schistosomiasis is limited to numbers of individuals harbouring the infection. We explored the relationship between the presence of schistosome infection and clinical morbidity, in order to estimate numbers of individuals with disease-specific morbidity for Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma mansoni infection in sub-Saharan Africa. We searched the literature for cross-sectional data from field studies reporting both schistosome infection and morbidity. This was used to derive a functional relationship between morbidity and infection. After standardisation for diagnostic method, the number of individuals with specific types of clinical morbidity or pathology was predicted. As only aggregated prevalences of infection were available for countries or areas, we adjusted for heterogeneity in infection levels within communities in those countries. In total, 70 million individuals out of 682 million (2000 estimate) in sub-Saharan Africa were estimated to experience haematuria in the last 2 weeks associated with S. haematobium infection, and 32 million dysuria. Ultrasound detected serious consequences of S. haematobium, major bladder wall pathology and major hydronephrosis, were predicted at 18 and 10 million, respectively. Infection with S. mansoni was estimated to cause diarrhoea in 0.78 million individuals, blood in stool in 4.4 million and hepatomegaly in 8.5 million. As the associations between prevalence of S. mansoni infection and prevalence of diarrhoea and blood in stool were not very clear, the resulting estimates may be underestimations. Using the very limited data available, we estimated the mortality rates due to non-functioning kidney (from S. haematobium) and haematemesis (from S. mansoni) at 150000 and 130000 per year. Given the overall high number of cases with schistosomiasis-related disease and associated death, we conclude that schistosomiasis remains an important public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                April 2014
                3 April 2014
                : 8
                : 4
                [1 ]Centre for Global Health Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kisumu, Kenya
                [2 ]School of Public Health and Community Development, Maseno University, Maseno, Kenya
                [3 ]ContextFACTOR Solutions, Nairobi, Kenya
                Ministry of Health, Uganda
                Author notes

                The authors have declared that no competing interest exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: GOO MRO JAA PNMM ROO. Performed the experiments: GOO RMM VOA ETM. Analyzed the data: GOO. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: GOO MRO JAA PNMM. Wrote the paper: GOO. Helped in the transcription of data: GOO RMM VOA ETM. Supervised the entire work: PNMM MRO JAA ROO. Reviewed the manuscript and contributed insight: GOO RMM VOA ETM MRO ROO JAA PNMM.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 8
                The study was supported by The European Foundations Initiative for Neglected Tropical Diseases (EFINTD) grant # I/85 041 to PNMM. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Social Sciences

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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