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'Fight the parasite': raising awareness of cystic echinococcosis in primary school children in endemic countries.

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Porcu, Francesca 
Dessì, Giorgia 
Sini, Maria Francesca 
Ahmed, Fahad 


BACKGROUND: Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a widespread zoonosis and a significant economic concern and cause of morbidity in humans. A scarcity of education on the sources of CE infection and containment measures is considered to be a key factor responsible for persistent transmission within communities. Recently, edutainment approaches have captured the attention of health education (HE) professionals due to the benefits of integrating cognitive and emotional learning processes. METHODS: A study was carried out in Sardinia, Italy, between 2020 and 2022, amid the SARS-Covid-19 pandemic. The project, designed to involve primary school children (via remote or face-to-face learning depending on the evolving Covid-19 containment measures) consisted of four distinct phases: (i) creation of material for school children and teachers focused on cystic echinococcosis; (ii) pre-intervention evaluation of CE knowledge (i.e. True False Don't Know [TFD] pre-intervention questionnaire based on CE-related knowledge and practices); (iii) edutainment activity (e.g. interactive lessons enhanced by the comic booklet and the "Fight the parasite" cartoon video, hands-on educational activities and drawing activities on CE); and (iv) post-intervention evaluation of CE knowledge (via TFD post-intervention questionnaire [same questionnaire as used for the pre-intervention assessment] on CE-related knowledge and practices) and on-site edutainment tour in primary schools taking part to the project. RESULTS: The percentage of correct answers increased from 65% for the questionnaire administered pre-intervention to 87.9% for the same questionnaire administered post-intervention (χ2 = 648.12, df = 1, P < 0.0001), while the percentage of uncertain answers (i.e. 'I don't know') decreased from 23% pre-intervention to 5% post-intervention (χ2 = 603.44, df = 1, P < 0.0001). These differences indicate a significantly enhanced understanding of CE among participating school children after the intervention. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the present survey indicate that the use of digital educational tools, the use of video animations as a model for science communication, as well as other participatory teaching methods, enabled children to retain key knowledge of the routes of CE transmission and ways to prevent it.



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Parasit Vectors

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC