Background: Infections by intestinal parasites are a major public health problem worldwide, especially among children in developing countries. As the prevalence of parasitic infection is different among and within countries, there is a need for periodical prevalence evaluation to appropriate control strategies.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out during October 2013 to estimate the prevalence of intestinal parasites and associated factors among school children attending “Juan Lefont Alonso” primary school from Jagüey Grande municipality in Matanzas province, Cuba. Three fresh faecal samples were collected from each child in different days. Parasite detection was achieved using direct wet mount, formalin-ether concentration, Ziehl-Neelsen permanent staining and Kato-Katz techniques. One hundred and seven children of third grade (8 to 9 years old, 56 males and 51 females) were included in the study after an informed consent form was signed by their parents or legal guardians. Questionnaire and observation were used to identify sociodemographic and associated factors. Data were analysed using EpiInfo 6.0 software.
Results: Fifty-five out of 107 screened schoolchildren (51.4%) were infected with one or more intestinal parasites. The most common parasites were Giardia duodenalis (39.2%; 42/107), Bastocystis sp (28%; 30/107), Trichuris trichuria (23.4%; 25/107) and Ascaris lumbricoides (19.6%; 21/107). Parasitic infection was similar by gender or place of residence. The risk of intestinal parasitic infection was significantly associated with the use of unboiled drinking water, and with bad hand washing practices as well as with the presence of diarrhoea and abdominal pain (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: The present study indicated that intestinal parasitic infections are common in this school and could negatively influence the quality of life of the community where the centre is located. In order to effectively reduce these infections, a multi-sectoral effort is needed.