Fishborne Zoonotic Trematodes in Raw Fish Dishes Served in Restaurants in Nam Dinh Province and Hanoi, Vietnam

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Fishborne zoonotic trematode (FZT) parasites are a serious food safety problem in Asian countries because of their tradition of eating raw fish. In northern Vietnam, the prevalence of FZT metacercariae (MC) in wild-caught and cultured fish is quite high. The objective of this study was to assess the risk for acquiring these parasites from raw fish dishes prepared in restaurants. Samples of fish meat (body muscle) and remainder parts (head, gills, fins, skin, and muscle tissue from the tail) were obtained from 39 restaurants located in Nam Dinh province, an area endemic for FZTs, and from 74 restaurants in the capital city of Hanoi. Six species of zoonotic intestinal trematodes were recovered from a total of nine freshwater and brackish water fish species. Overall, the prevalence of MC in meat samples was 6.1% and in remainder samples, 34.9%; freshwater fish were more often infected (39.4%) than brackish water species (16.0%). Dishes from Nam Dinh restaurants were more often infected (11.8%) than those from Hanoi (3.1%). The dominant trematode species, Haplorchis pumilio, exhibited a strong predilection for encystment in remainder fish parts (36.5%) compared with meat (3.9%). The mean density of MC in meat samples overall was low (1.0 to 1.5 MC per 50 g); however, the potential for parasites to accumulate over years of eating raw fish could result in significant clinical disease, as occurs with liver flukes. Also, the high densities of MC in the remainder parts (2.3 to 72.9 MC per 50 g) pose a threat for cross-contamination during dish preparation.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Environment and Disease Monitoring in Aquaculture, Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 1, Dinh Bang, Tu Son, Bac Ninh, Vietnam 2: Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Groennegaardsvej 15, DK-1870 Frederksberg C, Denmark 3: DBL—Centre for Health Research and Development, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvej 57, DK-1871 Frederksberg C, Denmark 4: Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Groennegaardsvej 15, DK-1870 Frederksberg C, Denmark;, Email:

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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