The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
MM: Primary researcher and conceived the idea for this study. MM and GA: Participated in data collection, conducted data analysis, drafted and finalized the manuscript for publication. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Globally about one third of the total population is estimated to be infected with intestinal parasites, of which, the majority are people living in tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. Cases of intestinal parasitosis are also highly abundant in Ethiopia and hence the aim of present study was to assess prevalence and predictors of intestinal parasitic infections among food handlers working in Arba Minch University students’ cafeteria, South Ethiopia.
A cross sectional study was conducted among food handlers working in Arba Minch University from April to June, 2015. A pretested structured questionnaire was used for collecting data about socio-demographic characteristics and possible risk factors. Stool specimens were collected and examined microscopically for the presence of eggs, cysts and trophozoites of intestinal parasites. Data entry and analysis were done using SPSS version 20 software.
A total of 376 food handlers were enrolled in the study of which thirty one of them were not willing to participate for a stool examination. The majority of study participants were females 273 (72.6 %). About 123 (36 %) of food handlers were found to be positive for different intestinal parasites with the most abundant parasite of Entamoeba histolytica/dispar 48 (14 %) followed by Ascaris lumbricoides 32 (9.27 %). Finger nail status (AOR: 2.2, 95 % CI: 1.29–3.72), hand washing practice after toilet (AOR: 1.71, 95 % CI: 1.06–2.77), hand washing practice before food handling (AOR: 1.69, 95 % CI: 1.04–2.75), preparing food when suffering from diseases (AOR: 3.08, 95 % CI: 1.17–8.13), and using common knife for cutting raw flesh food and other food (AOR: 1.72, 95 % CI: 1.01–2.92) were independent predictors of intestinal parasitic infection among the food handlers.
This study revealed a high prevalence of intestinal parasites among food handlers. Since most of the intestinal parasites are transmitted by the feco-oral route, food handlers could be an important source of infection to the students and general population. Therefore, constant epidemiological surveillance through biannual routine parasitological tests and treatment of the infected cases along with the improvement of personal hygiene and environmental sanitation are recommended to control the parasitic infection in food handlers.