Urogenital schistosomiasis in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique: baseline findings from the SCORE study

10 Jan 2018
Phillips AE, Gazzinelli-GuimarĂ£es PH, Aurelio HO, Dhanani N, Ferro J, Nala R, Deol A, Fenwick A.

BACKGROUND: The results presented here are part of a five-year cluster-randomised intervention trial that was implemented to understand how best to gain and sustain control of schistosomiasis through different preventive chemotherapy strategies. This paper presents baseline data that were collected in ten districts of Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique, before treatment.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 19,039 individuals was sampled from 144 villages from May to September 2011. In each village prevalence and intensity of S. haematobium were investigated in 100 children first-year students (aged 5-8 years), 100 school children aged 9-12 years (from classes 2 to 7) and 50 adults (20-55 years). Prevalence and intensity of S. haematobium infection were evaluated microscopically by two filtrations, each of 10 ml, from a single urine specimen. Given that individual and community perceptions of schistosomiasis influence control efforts, community knowledge and environmental risk factors were collected using a face-to-face interview. Data were entered onto mobile phones using EpiCollect. Data summary was made using descriptive statistics. Chi-square and logistic regression were used to determine the association between dependent and independent variables.

RESULTS: The overall prevalence of urogenital schistosomiasis was 60.4% with an arithmetic mean intensity of infection of 55.8 eggs/10 ml of urine. Heavy infections were detected in 17.7%, of which 235 individuals (6.97%) had an egg count of 1000 eggs/10 ml or more. There was a significantly higher likelihood of males being infected than females across all ages (62% vs 58%; P < 0.0005). Adolescents aged 9-12 years had a higher prevalence (66.6%) and mean infection intensity (71.9 eggs/10 ml) than first-year students (63.1%; 58.2 eggs/10 ml). This is the first study in Mozambique looking at infection rates among adults. Although children had higher levels of infection, it was found here that adults had a high average prevalence and intensity of infection (44.5%; 23.9 eggs/10 ml). Awareness of schistosomiasis was relatively high (68.6%); however, correct knowledge of how schistosomiasis is acquired was low (23.2%) among those who had heard of the disease. Schistosomiasis risk behaviour such as washing (91.3%) and bathing (86.7%) in open water sources likely to be infested with host snails was high.

CONCLUSIONS: Urogenital schistosomiasis is widespread in Cabo Delgado. In addition, poor community knowledge about the causes of schistosomiasis and how to prevent it increases the significant public health challenge for the national control program. This was the first study in Mozambique that examined infection levels among adults, where results showed that S. haematobium infection was also extremely high. Given that this controlled trial aims to understand the impact of different combinations of schistosomiasis control through treatment of communities, schools, and treatment holidays over a five-year period, these findings highlight the importance of examining the impact of different treatment approaches also in adults.