The prevalence of schistosomiasis in school-aged children as an appropriate indicator of its prevalence in the community


Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz




School-aged children (6-15 years) from the endemic area of Pernambuco were evaluated both as a target group for and an indicator of schistosomiasis control in the community. Parasitological data were drawn from baseline stool surveys of whole populations that were obtained to diagnose Schistosoma mansoni infection. Nineteen representative localities were selected for assessing the prevalence of schistosomiasis among individuals in the following age groups: 0-5, 6-15, 16-25, 26-40 and 41-80 years. For each locality, the prevalence in each age group was compared to that of the overall population using contingency table analysis. To select a reference group, the operational difficulties of conducting residential surveys were considered. School-aged children may be considered to be the group of choice as the reference group for the overall population for the following reasons: (i) the prevalence of schistosomiasis in this age group had the highest correlation with the prevalence in the overall population (r = 0.967), (ii) this age group is particularly vulnerable to infection and plays an important role in parasite transmission and (iii) school-aged children are the main target of the World Health Organization in terms of helminth control. The Schistosomiasis Control Program should consider school-aged children both as a reference group for assessing the need for intervention at the community level and as a target group for integrated health care actions of the Unified Health System that are focused on high-risk groups.

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