Awareness and impact of Lymphatic Filariasis among school children in rural endemic areas of West Bengal, India
Manas Paramanik1, Niladri Sarkar2, Goutam Chandra3
1 Department of Zoology, Gushkara Mahavidyalaya, Gushkara; Parasitology Laboratory, Mosquito and Microbiology Research Units, Department of Zoology, The University of Burdwan, Golapbag, Burdwan East, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Medicine, The Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research and Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital, Harish Mukherjee Road, Bhwanipur, Kolkata, India
3 Parasitology Laboratory, Mosquito and Microbiology Research Units, Department of Zoology, The University of Burdwan, Golapbag, Burdwan East, West Bengal, India
Professor, Parasitology Laboratory, Mosquito and Microbiology Research Units, Department of Zoology, The University of Burdwan, Golapbag, Burdwan East, West Bengal
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background & objectives: Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a neglected parasitic disease of tropics and subtropics including India. Although the disease mostly affects adults, there are evidences that LF infection is often acquired during childhood. This study assessed the filarial epidemiology as well as awareness about the disease among the school children in the rural areas of Bankura district, West Bengal, India.
Methods: Night blood samples of 1193 school children were examined to detect microfilariae. They were examined clinically by a physician for filarial manifestations and inquired about their awareness on the disease.
Results: Microfilaria rate and disease rate among school children of the study area were assessed as 3.69% and 8.97% respectively. Only 12.74% of the school children had proper knowledge about filariasis and 72.09% had filarial patients living nearby. Among those affected children, about 53.79% never received proper medical attention and 66.21% were found to be anxious about the fate of their filarial problems. School going males were found to be more affected than the females. Anxiety about the effect of the disease in girls was higher due to societal and medical ignorance among women that might develop psychological concerns.
Interpretation & conclusion: This study suggests that, in the present study area, about 12.15% population acquired filarial infection at the stage of schooling. But effort for developing awareness about filariasis among the school children is scanty, which is presumably one of the major causes of high endemicity. To rectify the situation, knowledge about mosquito and mosquito borne diseases, including LF, should be properly incorporated in school curriculum. Control measures like anti-filarial drug administration and morbidity-management can be implemented in schools by the local governments, as it should be.