The public health importance of cryptosporidiosis has not been widely reported among rural children in Imo State, South Eastern Nigeria. The prevalence of cryptosporidiosis among children was assessed in some rural parts of Imo State, Nigeria between November 2006 and October 2007 using standard parasitological techniques. Stool specimens from consenting subjects accessing primary health care facilities in the area were prepared using formalin/ether concentration methods, stained with modified acid fast stain and examined microscopically for oocyst of Cryptosporidium parvum. The overall prevalence of 14.3% was recorded. No oocysts were identified in asymptomatic control group (n=20). More male children (15.4%) were infected than female (13.4%) (p<0.05). The highest prevalence (20.3%) was noted among children within the age group of 0 to 5 years, while those within the age group of 11 to 14 years yielded the least prevalence (11.5%). Prevalence decreased as age increased (p<0.05). More so, infection was more prevalent among children in primary schools (16.4%) followed by those in daycare centres (14.5%), while those in post primary schools yielded the least (6.7%) prevalence. Prevalence rates of 13.4 and 13.9% were recorded for children at home (not enrolled into school) and nursery schools, respectively. There was significant difference as regards school related prevalence rates (p<0.05). The present results show that cryptosporidiosis poses a public health challenge in children found in the rural parts of Imo State, Nigeria, though it has not attained epidemic proportion. This warrants intensified effort towards awareness of the disease and its public health significance as well as prevention and control strategies in the area.
Key words: Cryptosporidiosis, widely reported, rural children.
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