In August 2000, a cross-sectional study was performed to assess the prevalence and intensity of soil-transmitted nematode infections in schoolchildren on Mafia Island. Hookworm infection was widespread (72.5% prevalence) whereas Trichuris trichiura was less prevalent (39.7%) and Ascaris lumbricoides was present at a low prevalence (4.2%), mainly in urban areas. In a subsample of the study population, both Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale were found, although N. americanus was more prevalent. This survey was followed by a parasitological evaluation of mebendazole treatment using a single, 500-mg dose. The data on outcome were used for comparison with those from recent studies of similar treatment regimens in the neighbouring island of Pemba, Zanzibar, where periodic chemotherapy with mebendazole to schoolchildren has been implemented as part of a helminth-control programme since 1994. A higher efficacy of mebendazole against hookworm infection was found in Mafia Island (where a cure 'rate' of 31.3% and an egg-reduction 'rate' of 78.1% were recorded) when compared with that observed in Pemba Island, possibly indicating that hookworms may be developing mebendazole resistance on Pemba Island as a result of intense exposure to the drug there.
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