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Open Access Research article

Health inequities: lower socio-economic conditions and higher incidences of intestinal parasites

İpek Östan1*, Ali A Kilimcioğlu2, Nogay Girginkardeşler2, Beyhan C Özyurt3, M Emin Limoncu1 and Ülgen Z Ok2

Author Affiliations

1 Celal Bayar University, Vocational School of Health Services, Manisa, Turkey

2 Celal Bayar University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Parasitology, Manisa, Turkey

3 Celal Bayar University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health, Manisa, Turkey

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:342  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-342

Published: 27 November 2007

Abstract

Background

Intestinal parasitic infections affect child health and development and slow down growth, while reducing adults' productivity and work capacity. The aim of the present study was to determine and compare the incidences of intestinal parasitic infections and the socio-economic status of two near primary school children in Manisa, a western city of Turkey.

Methods

A total of 352 children were involved a questionnaire study from a private school (Ülkem Primary School – ÜPS, 116 children) and a community-based school (Şehzadeler Primary School – ŞPS, 236 children). Of these, stool samples could be obtained from a total of 294 students; 97 (83.6%) from ÜPS, and 197 (83.5%) from ŞPS. The wet mount preparations of the stool samples were examined; samples were also fixed in polyvinyl alcohol and examined with modified formalin ethyl acetate sedimentation and trichrome staining techniques. Data were analyzed using SPSS for Windows version 10.0. The chi-squared test was used for the analytic assessment.

Results

The percentages of the students found to be infected with intestinal parasites, were 78 (39.6%) and 13 (13.4%) in ŞPS and ÜPS, respectively. Totally 91 (31.0%) of the students from both schools were found to be infected with at least one intestinal parasite. Giardia lamblia was found to be the most common pathogenic intestinal parasite and Blastocystis hominis was prevalent independently from the hygienic conditions. The factors which significantly (p < 0.05) increase the incidence of intestinal parasites were uneducated and unemployed mother, lower social status of father, living in crowded houses with insufficient indoor spaces, using the tap water as drinking water, and living at shanty areas.

Conclusion

Intestinal parasitic infections in school children were found to be a public health problem that increased due to lower socio-economic conditions. We conclude that organization of education seminars including the topics such as prevention of the infectious diseases, improving general hygienic conditions, and application of supportive programs for the parents may be suggested not only to reduce intestinal parasitic infections, but also to elevate the socio-cultural levels.