Guangdong province is the most important region for tilapia culture in China. However, it is also an endemic region for fishborne zoonotic trematodes (FZT), which pose a risk to human food safety and health. A study was designed to assess the status of trematode parasite infections in tilapia aquaculture systems as an indicator of potential risks from FZT associated with consumption of tilapia. Tilapia from nursery and grow-out ponds were sampled from monoculture, polyculture and integrated aquaculture systems. The results from 388 tilapia examined revealed a very low prevalence (1.5%) of trematode infections (Heterophyidae and Echinostomatidae). Integrated systems using animal manure and latrine wastes as fertilizer did not show a higher prevalence of FZT. Because it was not clear whether the low risk of infection was attributable to existing effective pond management practices or a low risk of spillover of FZT from area sylvatic reservoir hosts, a survey of local wild-caught fish was conducted. Five species of FZT were discovered from a total of 271 wild-caught fish and a mean infection density of 4.0 metacercariae/100 g; FZT discovered included intestinal flukes (Haplorchis spp., Procerovum varium, and Metagonimus spp.) and metacercariae tentatively identified as Clonorchis sinenesis. The common occurrence of FZT in wild-caught fish suggests that the presence of FZT in local wild animal reservoirs is substantial, and that although the current aquaculture management systems for tilapia are generally effective in preventing transmission of these parasites into tilapia production systems, the improvement of pond management practices and biosecurity must be maintained at a high level.
Veterinary Parasitology, 2013, Vol 198, Issue 1-2, p. 223-229