A Retrospective Study on Association between Symptoms and Laboratory Diagnosis of Intestinal Parasites among Patients Visiting Kenyatta National Hospital

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Background: Intestinal parasitic infections are the most common parasitic infections affecting man and can result in important morbidity or mortality in infected individuals. Intestinal parasites are common in resource-poor communities where they are also associated with considerable economic loss. These infections are persistent among these communities partly due to obstacles that militate against control efforts. These are such as inadequate knowledge of the distribution, demographic and environmental variables that influence the prevalence of infection in endemic areas. This study aimed at determining the prevalence of the intestinal parasites among the patients visiting Kenyatta National Hospital, the symptomatology of the patients and assess the distribution and demographic variables of these individuals.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the distribution and association between intestinal parasites and intestinal symptoms among patients visiting Kenyatta National Hospital.
METHODS: This was a retrospective cross-sectional study that involved the review of laboratory reports on intestinal parasites at KNH parasitology laboratory from 1st January 2008 to December 2012. The study was conducted at Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi. A sampling frame consisting of 2,960 laboratory reports was used to obtain a sample of 360 individuals after random sampling of the complete records. The sample records were reviewed for demographic data, stool microscopy outcomes and area of residence. The patient outpatient number was then used to obtain the card of the patient which was then analysed for the presenting complaints of the patient.
RESULTS: From the 360 reports reviewed all the patients presented with abdominal symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal bloating and abdominal pains. Most of the patients (38.2%) had diarrhoea as the chief complaint, of these 7.2% tested positive for
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intestinal parasites. Twenty nine percent of the patients presented with abdominal pains and bloating with 7.0% of them testing positive for intestinal parasites. About 20.3% of the patients presented with abdominal pain and diarrhoea with 8.6% being positive for intestinal parasites and 12.5% presented with diarrhoea and vomiting with only 2% being positive for intestinal parasites. Laboratory results revealed that overall, 23.4% of the patients in the sample were infected with intestinal parasites.
Conclusion
Patients presenting with abdominal symptoms to the hospital could be suffering from different ailments. This study indicates that majority of the patients who presented to the hospital with intestinal symptoms did not necessarily suffer from intestinal parasites with 76.6% of the patients testing negative for ova and cysts while 23.4% tested positive. Almost all the patients who presented with intestinal parasites had protozoal infection and majority were more than 10 years of age. It is therefore important to investigate for other causes of acute diarrhea for example bacteria and viruses.