The tapeworm Taenia solium is endemic in Zambia, however its socioeconomic cost is unknown. During a large-scale interventional study conducted in Zambia, baseline economic costs of human and porcine T. solium infections were measured. Questionnaire surveys were conducted within three neighbourhoods in Zambia's Eastern province in 2015 and 2016. A human health questionnaire, capturing costs of clinical symptoms commonly attributable to human cysticercosis and taeniasis, was conducted in randomly selected households (n = 267). All pig-keeping households were administered a pig socioeconomic questionnaire (n = 271) that captured pig demographic data, costs of pig-keeping, and economic losses from porcine cysticercosis. Of all respondents 62% had reportedly experienced at least one of the surveyed symptoms. Seizure-like episodes were reported by 12%, severe chronic headaches by 36%, and vision problems by 23% of respondents. These complaints resulted in 147 health care consultations and 17 hospitalizations in the five years preceding the study, and an estimated productivity loss of 608 working days per year. Of all pigs 69% were bought within villages. Nearly all adult pigs were sold to local traders, and tongue palpation for detection of cysticerci was commonly performed. Reportedly, 95% of pig owners could not sell tongue-positive pigs, while infected pigs fetched only 45% of the normal sale value. These preliminary costing data indicate that human and porcine T. solium infections substantially impact endemic areas of Eastern Zambia. A full socioeconomic burden assessment may enable improved T. solium management in sub-Saharan Africa.
Keywords: Cost; Parasitic zoonoses; Pigs; Taenia solium cysticercosis; Zambia.
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