STUDY OBJECTIVE--The study aimed to evaluate the impact of focused health education on the hospital prevalence of a seasonal ataxic syndrome which occurs exclusively in people of low income after eating the larvae of Anaphe venata Butler (Lepidoptera, Notodontidae). DESIGN--Retrospective impact evaluation study. SETTING--Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesha, western Nigeria from where the syndrome was first described. METHODS--Hospital workers were informed of recent research findings on the aetiological role of Anaphe venata larvae consumption in the annual epidemics of seasonal ataxia. They were encouraged to educate hospital patients and their relatives and to ask them to pass this information to neighbours and other family members who are usually of the same social strata. The number of admissions for seasonal ataxia in the pre-intervention years (1990 and 1991) and in the intervention years (1992 and 1993) were extracted from records. The total number of casualty admissions between July and November of each year were also obtained. The period prevalence rates of the disease in each year of the study period were calculated and compared. RESULTS--The pre-intervention prevalence rates were 1.27% and 1.59% for 1990 and 1991 respectively. The prevalence rates in the intervention years of 1992 and 1993 were 0.58% and 0.006%, representing a 65.5% reduction between 1991 and 1992, and a 99% reduction between 1992 and 1993. CONCLUSION--The health education technique used is an inexpensive but effective way of providing the intervention needed for the control of nutrition related diseases in the poor, largely illiterate segment of communities that are most vulnerable.
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