Philippine Science Letters
Philipp. Sci. Lett. 7 (1) 73-80
available online: March 1, 2014
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: October 10, 2013
Revised: January 7, 2014
Accepted: February 7, 2014
Documented reports about the health status of Aetas, one of the oldest indigenous groups in the Philippines, are limited. In view of their cultural practices, Aetas are considered at great risk of exposure to soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections. This study investigated STH infection and its possible association with hemoglobin levels among Aeta schoolchildren from Katutubo Village in Planas, Porac, Pampanga. Parasitologic assessment was performed using fecalysis by the Kato-Katz quantitative technique, while blood samples were collected for hemoglobin-level analysis using a portable HemoCue machine. Out of 195 children who submitted their stool samples, 97.4% of them had at least one STH infection, with Trichuris trichiura being the most prevalent (94.4%), followed by Ascaris lumbricoides (84.1%), and hookworm (21.5%). School children with moderate- to heavy-intensity infections were found in 152 (82.6%) out of 184 Kato-Katz processed stool. Co-infection rate with A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura was high at 81%. Of the 213 schoolchildren analyzed for hemoglobin levels, 18.3% were anemic (<11.0g/dl). Hemoglobin level was found to be significantly associated with the children’s age (p<0.01) and intensity of hookworm infection (p=0.013). The present findings suggest the need for sustainable deworming programs including biannual treatment of helminths combined with improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene. The high STH infection rates found among Aeta schoolchildren put them at greater risk of morbidity. Accessible and high-quality health services must be provided and ensured. Further studies on the hosts’ nutritional status may prove useful in identifying other anemia-producing factors.