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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Giardia lamblia: a major parasitic cause of childhood diarrhoea in patients attending a district hospital in Ghana

Bernard Nkrumah1* and Samuel Blay Nguah2

Author Affiliations

1 Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine, Kumasi, Ghana

2 Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana

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Parasites & Vectors 2011, 4:163  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-4-163

Published: 22 August 2011

Abstract

Background

Acute childhood diarrhoea remains one of the leading causes of childhood morbidity and mortality in developing countries. The WHO has accordingly underlined the need for epidemiological surveys of infantile diarrhoea in all geographical areas. This study was conducted to determine the incidence of intestinal parasites among stool samples from children examined at a secondary health care facility in a rural area of Ghana.

Method

A retrospective study was conducted to investigate the incidence of intestinal parasites among children who had their stools examined at the Agogo Hospital laboratory. Stool microscopy results from January 2006 through May 2009 were obtained from archived records of the laboratory. Results for children less than 18 years were transcribed unto a standardized datasheet, entered into an electronic database designed using Microsoft® access 2007 and analyzed using Stata/SE11.1 statistical software. The incidences of the parasites were determined and presented with their Poisson exact 95% confidence intervals for the various ages.

Results

The median age of the 1080 children included in the study was 5 years (IQR: 2-12 years) with 51.9% being females. The overall incidence of all parasites was 114 per 1000 with Giardia lamblia being the most common (89.5%). Children aged less than a year had the lowest parasite incidence of 13 per 1000 with all being Giardia lamblia, while those aged 15-17 years had the highest of 169 per 1000. The incidence for Giardia lamblia only was lowest at 13 per 1000 for those under a year old, highest at 152 per 1000 for the 15-17 year group and 97 per 1000 for all ages combined. There was a significant rise in incidence of Giardia lamblia with age (Trend x2 = 18.6, p < 0.001). Five (4.3%) of the 118 positive stool samples had mixed parasites infection. Enterobius vermicularis, Taenia spp and Trichuris trichiura were not seen in any of the stool samples.

Conclusion

Giardia lamblia is the most prevalent intestinal parasite in examined stool samples of children within the Ashanti Akim North Municipality and its prevalence significantly increases with age. Measures must be put in place to educate the community on proper personal hygiene to reduce giardiasis.

Keywords:
Giardia lamblia; Intestinal parasites; Rural area; Childhood diarrhoea