COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

A comparative survey of the prevalence of human parasites found in fresh vegetables sold in supermarkets and open-aired markets in Accra, Ghana

Kwabena O Duedu, Elizabeth A Yarnie, Patience B Tetteh-Quarcoo, Simon K Attah, Eric S Donkor, Patrick F Ayeh-Kumi
BMC Research Notes 2014, 7: 836
25424391

BACKGROUND: Consuming raw vegetables offers essential nutrients that one may not get when such vegetables are usually cooked. However, eating them raw may pose a great risk for transmissions of pathogens. Such risks may be influenced by the sources of the vegetables and washing techniques used. The aim of the study was to compare the prevalence and diversity of parasitic pathogens associated with vegetables sold at the two types of markets in Ghana and compare effectiveness of various washing techniques.

METHODS: We purchased two batches of samples of cabbage, sweet bell pepper, carrot, lettuce, tomato and onion within a two week interval. The vegetables were washed by three methods and the wash solution was concentrated and analyzed for parasites.

RESULTS: The prevalent parasites detected were Strongyloides stercoralis larvae (43%) and Cryptosporidium parvum oocyst (16%). Others present were Hookworm ova, Entamoeba histolytica cysts, Giardia lamblia cysts, Cyclospora cayetanensis oocysts, Entamoeba coli cysts, Trichuris trichiuria ova, Enterobius vermicularis ova, Isospora belli oocysts and Fasciolopsis buski ova. Contamination was highest in lettuce (61%) and cabbage and the least contaminated was tomato (18%). Contamination of vegetables sold at the open-aired markets was about ten-times that of the supermarkets.

CONCLUSIONS: In Ghana, the large open-aired markets are the most patronized and serve as a supply point for most corner shops and stalls. The results thus highlight the potential of fresh vegetables serving as a major source of food-borne disease outbreaks and the contribution of open-aired markets to their transmission. Urgent public education on handling of fresh vegetables is recommended.

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