Fresh fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms as transmission vehicles for Echinococcus multilocularis in Europe: inferences and concerns from sample analysis data from Poland

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Abstract

Fresh fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, and other fresh produce are recognised as important vehicles of infection for several foodborne parasites, particularly those with a faecal-oral transmission route and robust environmental transmission stages. Nevertheless, analysis of such foods for parasite transmission stages, even during outbreaks, tends to show only low contamination. Echinococcus multilocularis is considered one of the most important foodborne parasites, but there are few studies in which fresh produce or like foods collected in their natural habitat is analysed for contamination with E. multilocularis eggs. In this article, we question a recent study from Poland reporting over 23 % of fresh berries, vegetables, and mushroom being highly contaminated with E. multilocularis eggs. In particular, it appears unlikely that 20 % of raspberries, which are elevated from ground level, should be exposed to faecal contamination. Additionally, the similar egg contamination of vegetation in forest and plantation environments is surprising considering the preference of the parasite’s most competent intermediate hosts for the latter environment. Furthermore, a lack of specific temporal information is concerning due to the varying infection pressure (and therefore environmental contamination) occurring in definitive hosts over the course of the year. Several important aspects of the study seem to us to have been neglected, and we are concerned that the published data might, if not questioned, lead to incorrect interpretation, and unnecessary losses in the agricultural sector.

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Robertson, L. J., Troell, K., Woolsey, I. D., & Kapel, C. M. O. (2016). Fresh fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms as transmission vehicles for Echinococcus multilocularis in Europe: inferences and concerns from sample analysis data from Poland. Parasitology Research, 115(6), 2485–2488. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-016-5015-4

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