N E Ekechukwu1; F N Ekeh1; M Nnaji1; G E Odoh1;
1 University of Nigeria, Nigeria
DiscussionHelminth infection remains a health concern particularly in places where unhygienic practices such as indiscriminate disposal of faecal wastes and the use of human night soil as farm fertilizer still exist. Studies in Nigeria have shown a high prevalence of geohelminths among humans living in an unsanitary environment. Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is a popular travelers' snacks in Nigeria due to its easy farming, readily and quickly consumable methods. The consequences of human infection with soil-transmitted helminths are of major health concern here, since most people especially the local commuters eat groundnuts without caring about how they are processed and handled. More so, peasant farmers have little understanding of the effects of soil-borne helminths in groundnuts and how parasitic infections of the groundnut pods pose a risk to human health. Here, we carried out a three-month survey of the prevalence and intensity of geohelminths in groundnut plants and groundnut farm soil in Aku, Ede-Oballa and Enugu-Ezike towns. A randomized sampling technique was employed to collect groundnut plant and groundnut farm soil. Overall, 180 samples were collected,60 samples from each town comprising 30 samples of 100g of soil and 30 samples of 100g of groundnut plant (leaf, pod, and root). The geohelminths in the samples were isolated by sedimentation-centrifugation techniques. The research revealed that only soil samples and groundnut pods had geohelminth infections. Six (6) helminths were isolated (largely eggs from the farm soil) and five (5) were identified as parasitic nematodes (Aphelenchoidides arachidis, Dityelenchus spp., Ascaris lumbricoides eggs, Ancylostoma/Necator eggs, Taenia spp eggs), while one remained unidentified. There was a significant difference in the prevalence of geohelminth in the three locations. In Aku, prevalence was 33 (55.0%), Ede-Oballa 28 (46.7%) and Enugu-Ezike 9 (15.0%), (P < 0.05). The prevalence of helminth infections in the study areas was moderately high and significantly dependent on the farm location. The overall mean intensity of helminth parasites in groundnut farm soil was high, Aku recorded 5.66 (95% Cls: 4.58-6.79), Ede-Oballa; 5.96 (4.59-7.44) and Enugu-Ezike; 4.43(2.43-6.86). This high intensity of geohelminth parasites observed calls for immediate health responsiveness. We suggest an extended detailed survey and the need to raise geohelminth epidemiological awareness in the study area.