Potentially cancerogenic parasite found in Vietnamese farmed pangasius
2017-08-31 19:25:53   copyfrom:    hits:

Pangasius farming in Vietnam (Photo: NIFES)NORWAYTuesday, August 15, 2017,23:00 (GMT + 9)NIFESscientists detected a

Pangasius farming in Vietnam. (Photo: NIFES)


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Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 23:00 (GMT + 9)


NIFES scientists detected a parasite in farmed pangasius in Vietnam which can cause serious liver disease and cancer if the actual seafood is eaten raw, without prior freezing or properly heating.

"We did not expect to find Chinese liver fluke. This is a new parasite species for the Mekong Delta," NIFES scientist Arne Levsen stressed.

The Chinese liver fluke (Clonorchis sinensis) is a dangerous parasite that can be transferred to people through consumption of raw or only lightly processed freshwater fish from China and Southeast Asia. In the human body, Chinese liver fluke thrives in the gall bladder and the bile ducts of the liver.

"Serious infections with hundreds of flukes can cause inflammation and blockage of the bile ducts, often with jaundice-like symptoms. In a worst-case scenario, the parasite can even cause liver cancer," pointed out Levsen.

Chinese liver fluke is one of the most widespread food-borne flukes in Asia. According to the World Health Organization, 30 million people are infected with this parasite globally.

Due to this finding, Levsen encourages tourists visiting Vietnam and Southeast Asia to avoid local, only lightly processed fish dishes. Proper heating is required to kill the parasites.

‘If you do not know if the seafood you’re offered has undergone proper heat treatment, don’t eat it. This goes for all seafood, including crabs and prawn, which may contain other parasites that can be dangerous,’ he warned.

Europe imports regularly large quantities of pangasius, where it is often sold as ‘whitefish’ or ‘sole’ to lend it a more exclusive flair.

"All pangasius bound for Europe are visually examined for parasites, but Chinese liver fluke is impossible to spot with the naked eye," said Levsen.

However, since pangasius is frozen when it is imported to Europe, the parasite is not a food safety concern. Parasites die when frozen.

Vietnamese pangasius was examined as part of a large EU project known under the striking acronym PARASITE. In addition to analysing 865 farmed fish, the scientists also checked 130 wild pangasius from basically the same area for parasites.

In the scientist’s view, the parasite was brought along with broodstock from areas where the parasite occurs naturally.

"It probably originates in other regions of Southeast Asia such as Thailand or South China. We are now comparing various genes to check if there are any genetic footprints that enable us to trace the flukes back to their area of origin," the NIFES scientist concluded.

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