Fasciolopsiasis: is it a controllable food-borne disease?
Fasciolopsiasis, endemic to the Orient and Southeast Asia, is a snail-transmitted, intestinal, food-borne parasitic zoonosis caused by a trematode, Fasciolopsis buski, which also infects farm pigs. Fasciolopsiasis remains a public health problem despite changes in eating habits, alterations in social and agricultural practices, health education, industrialization, and environmental alterations. The disease occurs focally and is most prevalent in school-age children. In foci of parasite transmission, the prevalence of infection in children ranges from 57% in mainland China to 25% in Taiwan and from 50% in Bangladesh and 60% in India to 10% in Thailand. Control programs implemented for food-borne zoonoses are not fully successful for fasciolopsiasis because of century-old traditions of eating raw aquatic plants and using untreated water. Fasciolopsiasis is aggravated by social and economic factors such as poverty, malnutrition, an explosively growing free-food market, a lack of sufficient food inspection and sanitation, other helminthiases, and declining economic conditions.