Prevalence, Intensity, and Factors Associated with Soil-Transmitted Helminths Infection among Children in Zambia: A Cross-sectional Study

Sibongile Tembo1, *, Patricia Mubita2, Lungowe Sitali3, Jessy Zgambo1
1 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
2 Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
3 Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia

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Creative Commons License
© 2019 Tembo et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Zambia, P.O Box 50110, Lusaka, Zambia; Tel: +260 978929588; E-mail:



Soil-transmitted helminths are among the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) of poverty. They are a common type of parasitic infections in the world, caused by three main species commonly known as roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms. The diseases have major health and socio-economic repercussions and significantly contribute to public health problems in developing countries.


This study investigated the prevalence, intensity, and factors associated with soil-transmitted helminths among children in Chililabombwe district of Zambia.


A cross-sectional design was used, consisting of 411 guardian – child pairs aged between 17-77 years and 1-15 years, respectively. This was conducted between October and December 2017. Systematic sampling and simple random sampling were used to select the household and 411 participants, respectively. The study used a structured pre-tested questionnaire and stool tests to obtain information on socio-demographic, environmental, behavioral, and service-related factors associated with helminth infection. Stool samples were collected and examined for the presence of parasites using formol-ether concentration and Kato-Katz techniques. Geometric mean was used to report the intensity of infection. An investigator-led stepwise regression was used to identify factors associated with developing Soil-Transmitted Helminth infection and the level of significance was set at 0.05.


Prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infection was 59/411 (14.4%) and the most dominant parasite was roundworms 58/411 (14.1%). The overall intensity of infection was light (<5000epg) with a few heavy infections (>50000epg). Factors independently associated with soil-transmitted helminth infection after adjusting for other variables were residence (AOR=0.26; 95% CI [0.09-0.73]), household income (AOR=2.49; 95% CI [1.01-6.12]), and overcrowding (AOR =1.33; 95% CI [1.09-1.62]).


Our findings indicate that STH infections are still prevalent. Low household income, residence, and overcrowding are the factors associated with infection. This indicates that reinfection is common even after deworming.

Keywords: Soil-transmitted helminths, Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris Trichiura, Hookworms, Intensity, Neglected tropical diseases of poverty, Zambia.