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BACKGROUND: Distribution of malaria and intestinal helminths is known to overlap in developing tropical countries of the world. Co-infections with helminth and malaria parasites cause a significant and additive problem against the host. The aim of this study was to asses the prevalence of malaria/helminth co-infection and the associated problems among febrile outpatients that attended Alaba Kulito Health Center, southern Ethiopia November and December 2007. A total of 1802 acute febrile patients were diagnosed for malaria. 458 Giemsa-stained thick and thin blood films were used for identification of Plasmodium species and Stool samples prepared using Kato-Katz technique were used to examine for intestinal helminths. Haemoglobin concentration was measured using a portable spectrophotometer (Hemocue HB 201). Anthropometry-based nutritional assessment of the study participants was done by measuring body weight to the nearest 0.1 kg and height to the nearest 0.1 cm.

FINDINGS: 458 of the total febrile patients were positive for malaria. Co infection with Plasmodium and helminth parasites is associated with significantly (p < 0.001) higher anaemia prevalence than single infection with Plasmodium parasites. And this difference was also significant for haemoglobin concentration (F = 10.18, p = 0.002), in which patients co infected with Plasmodium and helminth parasites showed lower mean haemoglobin concentration. More than one-third of the infected cases in both malaria infections and malaria/helminth co infections are undernourished. However the statistics for the difference is not significant.

CONCLUSION: Malaria and soil-transmitted helminthiasis obviously contribute to anaemia and low weight status and these conditions are more pronounced in individuals concurrently infected with malaria and soil-transmitted helminths. Hence, simultaneous combat against the two parasitic infections is very crucial to improve health of the affected communities.



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