Malaria and helminth co-infection and nutritional status of febrile patients in Southern Ethiopia

Abraham Degarege, Abebe Animut, Mengistu Legesse, Girmay Medhin, Berhanu Erko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Because the mechanisms by which Plasmodium and helminth parasites affect nutritional status are different, these parasites likely have additive effects when they co-exist in a host. This study aimed to compare the prevalence of undernutrition in patients infected with either Plasmodium or helminths and those co-infected with the two types of parasites. Methods: Acute febrile patients suspected of having malaria who attended the outpatient clinic at Dore Bafeno Health Center between December 2010 and February 2011 were examined for Plasmodium parasites using Giemsa-stained thick and thin blood smears and for helminths using the thick Kato-Katz method. Nutritional status was determined using anthropometric indices generated from height and weight measurements. Results: Of the 702 patients examined, 34.5% were infected with helminths alone, 12.3% were infected with Plasmodium alone, and 19.4% co-infected with Plasmodium and intestinal helminths. Out of the patients examined, 44.9% were undernourished. The prevalence of undernutrition was not significantly different between those patients not infected with Plasmodium or helminth species and those infected with Plasmodium or helminth species. The differences in the odds of undernutrition were also not significant between patients who were co-infected with different Plasmodium and helminth species and those with single infections with Plasmodium or helminth species in our multivariable logistic regression model adjusted for the confounding effects of age and sex. Conclusion: The prevalence of undernutrition was comparable in patients infected with Plasmodium or helminths alone and those co-infected with Plasmodium and helminths in Dore Bafeno Health Center, Southern Ethiopia. However, further studies are needed in areas of intense transmission where both parasites are endemic to elucidate whether the impact of Plasmodium and helminth co-infection on undernutrition is additive or multiplicative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-37
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Infection and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Co-infection
  • Helminth
  • Plasmodium
  • Southern Ethiopia
  • Undernutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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