The Prevalence of Helminth Eggs and Protozoan Oocysts on Commonly Consumed Vegetables in Abuja, Nigeria
The presence of helminths eggs on vegetables is of public health significance, considering the fact that communities are at risk of infection. Thus, the need to determine the prevalence of intestinal parasites in leafy vegetables sold in markets in Abuja, Nigeria. A total of 150 leafy vegetable samples including cabbage (Brassica oleracea), green leaves (Amaratus hybridus), lettuce (Lectuca sativa), pumpkin leaves (Telfaria accidentalis) and water leaves (Talinum triangularia) were purchased from five randomly selected vegetable markets from each of the six area councils which included, Abaji, Abuja Municipal, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje, and Kwali area councils. The samples were screened for helminth eggs and protozoan cysts using standard methods. Out of the 150 samples collected from all the area councils, 96 (64 %) were positive for geohelminths eggs and protozoan oocyst. The helminth eggs found on the samples included; Ascaris spp (28.57 %), Trichostrongylus spp (17.14 %), Toxocara spp (11.43 %), Stronglyoide spp 11.43 %, Trichuris (8.57 %), Schistosoma spp (8.57 %), Taenia spp (8.57 %) and Strongylus spp 5.72 %. Among the vegetables screened, lettuce had the highest multiple parasite contamination, while green leaves had the lowest. Water leaves were highly contaminated and contributed (6.5±3.55) (27.08 %) of the parasitic contamination followed by pumpkin (5.25±2.75) (21.88 %), lettuce (4.5±1.75) (18.75 %), green leaves (4.25±2.1) 17.71 %, and cabbage (3.5±1.75) (14.58 %). Among the area councils, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) had the highest contamination with both helminth eggs and protozoan cysts (23.96%). The high level of leafy vegetables contamination with parasitic eggs was significant, hence, the inhabitants of Abuja city should be informed and
educated with regard to food safety.
Keywords: Helminths, Geohelminths, Vegetables, Contamination, Malnutrition, Public, Health.