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Background: Syphilis is a multifaceted disease with serious implications for the pregnant women and the foetus. Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis has been a public health challenge for centuries. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among pregnant women are wide spread in the developing countries, and constitute a major public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Information regarding the prevalence of syphilis in pregnant women is scanty from the north-west zone of Nigeria.
Aims: Evaluation of seroprevalence of Treponema pallidum infection among pregnant women attending a selected hospital at Northern Nigeria was carried out, with view to assess the socio-demographic data and predisposing factors of syphilis among the study population.
Methods: Exactly 200 pregnant women, who attended antenatal clinic of the selected hospital at Northern Nigeria, from July to September, 2015 were screened for syphilis using syphilis rapid immunochromatographic test for in-vitro diagnostic technique. Patients’ demographic data and predisposing factors of syphilis were assessed using a structured questionnaire.
Results: The result showed that 2.0% of the 200 pregnant women screened were positive. Based on age, individuals who were less than or equal 20 years had the highest prevalence of 4.1% followed by those who aged 21-30 with the prevalence of 1.1%. Family type and place of the study subjects were significantly associated with the disease (Fisher’s exact test = 0.014 and 0.008 respectively). Therefore associated risk factors were age, family type and place of residence. While, educational status, employment status, gestational age and blood transfusion were not significantly associated with syphilis in the study area. While seroprevalence of 4(5.7%) was recorded in polygamous individual; no positive case was recorded among those practicing monogamy. Urban dwellers were found to have a prevalence rate of 6.6% with no infection detected among the rural dwellers.
Conclusion: The overall prevalence of syphilis among the study population was 2.0%. The disease is more prevalent among middle aged, rural dwelling and polygamous pregnant women. Hence in a bid to control syphilis infection, both partners should be evaluated and treated. This study has further provided information on the prevalence of Treponema pallidum infection among pregnant women at Northern Nigeria.
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