BACKGROUND: National mapping of soil-transmitted helminth infections (STH) was conducted for the first time in all of the 77 districts of Benin (West Africa) from 2013 to 2015. This mapping aimed to provide basic epidemiological data essential for the implementation of the national strategy against the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the context of achieving the WHO target of controlling these infections by 2020.
METHODS: In each district, 5 schools were purposively selected in 5 villages and 50 school-children (25 girls and 25 boys) from ages 8 to 14 years were randomly enrolled in each school. In total, 19,250 stool samples of school children (9,625 girls and 9,625 boys) from 385 schools were examined by Kato-Katz technique.
RESULTS: The three major species of STH (hookworm, Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura) were observed with intra- and inter-specific variations in the prevalence and the intensity of these parasites. Hookworm infection was present in all of the surveyed districts with an average prevalence of 17.14% (95% CI 16.6%-17.6%). Among the infected schoolchildren, at national level, 90.82%, 6.73% and 2.45% of infections were of light, moderate and heavy parasite intensities respectively. A. lumbricoides infection, with a national average prevalence of 5.35% (95% CI 5.00%-5.60%),was the second most prevalent STH, and 84.37%, 14.27% and 1.36% of the infections were of light, moderate and heavy parasite intensities, respectively. T. trichiura had a national average prevalence of 1.15% (95% CI 0.90%-1.20%) and 80.45%, 13.18% and 6.36% infections were of light, moderate and heavy parasite intensities, respectively. The national cumulative prevalence of the three STH infections was 22.74% (95% CI 22.15%-23.33%), with58.44% (45/77) of the districts requiring mass treatment according to WHO recommendations. In all of the surveyed districts, multiple infections by STH species were common, and boys seemed more at risk of hookworm and Ascaris infections.
CONCLUSIONS: This first national mapping provided an overview of the epidemiological pattern of STH infections and was essential for the implementation of a control strategy with an effective preventive chemotherapy treatment (PCT). Results show that while preventive chemotherapy is not indicated for children in 32/77 districts, 43 require annual deworming and two require twice yearly deworming. If no environmental change occurs, and no mass treatment is delivered, prevalence is likely to remain stable for many years owing to poor hygiene and sanitation.