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Perception and attitude of people toward onchocerciasis (river blindness) in south western Nigeria

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Author(s): Adeoye A | Ashaye A | Onakpoya O

Journal: Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
ISSN 0974-9233

Volume: 17;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 310;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Attitude | Onchocerciasis | Perception | River Blindness

ABSTRACT
Background: Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is a major cause of bilateral blindness with devastating socioeconomic consequences. Since Nigeria is the most heavily onchocerciasis endemic country in the world, the information on peopleā€²s knowledge about this disease is significant. This could influence their response to current preventive measures of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. Aim: This study was designed to estimate the level of knowledge and attitudes of rural/semi-urban communities in Ife North Local Government Area of Osun State toward onchocerciasis. Materials and Methods: Cluster random sampling was used to select 500 adults for the study. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to subjects. Data on knowledge of the local name, cause, mode of transmission, manifestation, severity, treatment, and prevention of onchocerciasis were collected and analysed. Statistical analysis included frequency distribution of the responses and a Chi-square test for comparison of variables with the P value for statistical significance set at 0.05. Results: Onchocerciasis was well known by its local name among 458 (91.6%) of the respondents. Only seven (1.4%) knew that it affects both the eyes and skin. The cause was commonly attributed to impure blood by 114 (22.8%), whereas transmission was thought to be through fomites by 161 (32.2%). Only 12 (2.4%) respondents attributed the disease to blackfly bites. The level of education and the association of onchocerciasis with a river were significantly associated (P = 0.001). Subcutaneous nodules were felt to contain water (85.4%), baby worms (3.2%), and fat (0.6%). There was a negative attitude toward sufferers of the disease. Conclusion: Adequate information transfer in simple local dialect by trained personnel to the communities at risk of onchocerciasis is essential for better uptake of all aspects of the onchocerciasis control programme.

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