Prevalence and Predictors of Dermatophyte Infections Among Primary School Children in Ilemela, Mwanza, Tanzania

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Martha F Mushi
Editha Jonathan
Mariam M Mirambo
Stephen E Mshana


Background: Dermatophytes are highly contagious organisms of public health importance, particularly among primary school children in the resource-limited settings with a prevalence of 10% to 20% in East Africa. Here, we report the prevalence and associated factors of dermatophyte infections among primary school children in Ilemela, Mwanza - Tanzania.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted involving 323 children aged between 4 and 10 years from 10 randomly selected primary schools. The study was conducted between July 2017 and September 2017. Pretested interviewer-administered semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect relevant social-demographic information followed by clinical examination to establish the diagnosis of dermatophyte infections. Data were analysed using Stata version 13.

Results: The mean age of the study participants was 7.63±1.27 years, with the slightl majority (n=183, 56.7%) of participants being girls. The majority (n=277, 70.3%) of the study participants were from public schools. A total of 299 (92.6%) children reported using tap water at home. Using clinical diagnosis, 94 (29.1%) children had dermatophyte infections with 92 (97.9%) of them having tinea capitis. By multivariate logistic regression analysis: being a boy (odds ratio [OR] 1.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.22 to 3.22; P=.01); using lake, river, or well water (OR 3.18; 95% CI, 1.36 to 7.38; P<.01); playing in a dusty environment (OR 2.65; 95% CI, 1.28 to 5.47; P<.01); playing with animals (OR 2.13; 95% CI, 1.28 to 3.56; P<.003); and having family members with dermatophyte infections (OR 10.56; 95% CI, 4.57 to 24.41; P<.001) predicted dermatophyte infections.

Conclusion: The prevalence of dermatophyte infection is high in the study population and is associated with poor hygiene. Improved hygiene will reduce the prevalence of dermatophyte infections among primary school children in low-income countries. Further studies to identify the species and susceptibility patterns of these dermatophytes are recommended to establish empirical treatment guidelines.

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