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This study was carried out to determine the implications of Onchocerciasis on the health conditions and socio-economic activities in Oji River LG.A. The type of data used to obtain the information were questionnaires. Data was analyzed using chi-square, frequency distribution and percentages. Chi-square test and analysis of variance test were used to test the hypotheses. The study reveals that ochocerciasis is endemic in Oji River L.G.A and its incidence level is high. The level of incidence varies in different village, occupation income and educational levels. The intensity of the infectious bites of the vector and occupational group mostly affected are the farmers because of the nearness of the houses of most of the farmers to streams and water bodies. The pathological effects of onchocerciasis include visual impairment, rashes, palpable nodules, leopards skins, groins and blindness. There is no significant difference in the incidence of onchocerciasis in the two communities of the study area. Onchocerciasis infection is not related to income, education, health and occupation of the inhabitants. The work recommends that a long term planning programme involving the distribution of anti-parasitic drugs and nodulectomy should be adopted by the government for the effective control of the onchocerciasis in the area. Farmlands close to the identified breeding sites need to be left uncultivated until measures are taken to flush out parasite from the breeding sites.
1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Onchocerciasis is an infection caused by the Onchocerca volvulus worm which is spread to humans through the bite of an infected blackfly. It is a leading cause of blindness in some countries and is believed to infect over 17 million people worldwide (World Health Organization, 2008). Infection can cause dermatitis with severe itching, eye disease including blindness, and the formation of nodules in the skin.
In recent decades, Onchocerciasis has struck 18 million people worldwide, and accounts for nearly a tenth of all cases of blindness (World Health Organization, 2008). The vast majority of cases of river blindness are in Sub-Sahara Africa, where nearly 30 countries have been affected (World Health Organization, 2008). Onchocerciasis is a major public health problem in many parts of the world. All reported cases result from emigration of individuals from endemic areas. (Crosskey, 1998)
The presence of Onchocerciasis has been reported in Africa. These observations were confirmed in 1917 and 1920 by
researchers. Then in 1995 an estimated 270,000 people were blind and another 500,000 had severe visual impairment as a result of the disease (World Health Organization, 2007). The disease is found in east central and West Africa. In West Africa regions where the disease has reached hyperendemic proportions, over 100,000 persons were blind or had their eye sight seriously impared (World Health Organization, 2006). In Nigeria alone over 50% of identified hospital cases of filarial infection were cases of Onchocerciasis is endemic in Oji River Local Government Area.
In Achi, a town in Oji River Local Government Area of Enugu state, 68% prevalence rate with a density of 24.9% microfilaria per mg of skin was reported (Nwoke, 1990).
This study emphasizes the implications of Onchocerciasis on the health conditions and socio-economic life in Oji River Local Government Area of Enugu State.
1.1 Statement of Problem
The high incidence of serious visual impairment and blindness, skin rashes, lesions and intense itching and depigmentation of the skin of many inhabitants of Oji River L.G.A attracted the interest of the researcher. In Oji Local Government Area of Enugu State, there is a high incidence of serious visual
impairment and blindness. In severe cases the patients are infected with Onchocerca volvolus which manifest under skin as nodules (Ochocercoma) hanging and enlarged groins. This condition has affected most of the indigenes, particularly farmers, who have to abandon their fertile farmlands due to severe illness or visual impairment, which in very extreme cases lead to blindness. The socio-economic fabric of the area is affected as many of the inhabitants, including youths, and adults, resort to begging.
In Oji River, onchocerciasis can be considered as an occupational disease. Most of the risk areas are Achi and Ugwuoba who are exposed to the bites of black flies while going about their daily chores where black flies breed, or are common. The occupational group includes farmers, fishermen, cattle herdsmen or people who live near rivers, which are the breeding sites. The majority are aware of the disease which they recognized once their body starts itching or muscular skeletal pains develops, while some attributed chronic itching, nodules, bad vision and leopard skin to blakfly bite. In the southern part of Nigeria, ochocerciasis occurs in areas where savannah and forest regions merge. Therefore, in view of these, the researcher decided to embark on this study. The implications of
onchocerciasis on the health conditions and socio-economic activities in Oji River L.G.A of Enugu State, Nigeria.
1.2 Research Questions
1. What percentage of the population are affected by onchocerciasis?
2. What is the impact of the incidence of onchocerciasis on the health of the inhabitants?
3. What is the relationship between the incidence of onchocerciasis and sex, age, and education?
4. How does the incidence of onchocerciasis affect the income level of household?
5. How does the incidence of onchocerciasis related to the type of occupation in the study area?
1.3 Aims and Objectives
The aim of the study is to investigate the implications of onchocerciasis on the Health conditions and Socio-economic activities in Oji River L.G.A of Enugu State. In doing this, the following form the objectives of the study which are to:
1. determine the percentage of the inhabitants affected by incidence of the onchocerciasis in the study area.
2. determine the health impact of the incidence of onchocerciasis in the two communities of the study area.
3. determine the relationship between income, occupation, education and the infected population.
4. identify how the incidence of onchocerciasis affect the income levels (earnings) of people in Oji River L.G.A.
5. establish the relation to type of occupation of the inhabitants.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
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