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Some locally available fruits (garden egg, orange, banana, guava, avocado, pawpaw and pineapple).sold in Oye Emene Enugu, Enugu State was examined for parasitological contamination. A total of 87 samples were examined using sedimentation and concentration methods. 11(12.6%) of the 87 fruits were positive for intestinal parasites microscopically. Among these fruits, guava had the highest number of intestinal parasites which was 6 (35.3% positive and the lowest was banana 2(8%). Parasite implicated were ova of Ascaris lumbricoides 8(9.2%), cysts of Amoeba 3(10%), yeast cells were seen on pineapple and water melon. There is no significant difference between the two methods used. Results of the current study shows a significant level of fruits contamination with pathogenic parasite from different places in Oye Emene in Enugu, Enugu State suggesting existence of a great risk of acquiring intestinal parasites by eating improperly washed fruits.
Among horticultural crops, fruits are of great importance for an adequate and balance human diet. In certain part of the world, fruits are the major dietary staple. Apart from being a rich source of vitamins, and minerals, the production of fruits also contributes significantly to regional and national economics through national and international trade. The term fruit has many different meanings depending on the context. A fruit is a ripened ovary together with seeds of a flowering plant. Fruits are the means through which flowering plants disseminate seeds (Lewis, 2002).
In cuisine when food items are called “fruits” the term is most often used for those plants fruits that are edible, sweet, and fresh examples are: apples, and oranges. Fruits are cultivated in areas where the environmental factors are suitable for their growth. Emene in Enugu state is considered one of the areas that have good cultivating land for great yield of fruits and this is done usually during rainy season or use of irrigation during dry season. Irrigation water is achieved by different sources like lake, stream, river, ponds etc. which may be polluted with animal and human feaces. Due to high number of eggs, cyst and larvae of human intestinal parasites present in the waste water, the use of excreta polluted water is a health risk to both the farmers and the consumers that eat the produce raw and fresh, like apples, guava, pear and mango (Scolf, 1992).
Pollination is a vital part of fruit culture, and in few species, they may develop in the absence of pollination/fertilization, a process known as “parthernocarpy” such fruits are seedless (Mauseth &James 2003). Many foods are botanically fruits, but are treated as vegetables in cooking and food preparations. Examples are: Tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin and pears etc. (Mcgee and Harold 2004). Ethylene causes ripening in fruits.
There are three types of fruits
1. Simple fruit
2. Aggregate fruit and
3. Multiple fruit
Simple fruit can be either dry or fresh, Example carrot, wheat, tomato, avocado, banana etc. (Schelegel,2002). The examples of an aggregate fruits are pineapple, bread fruit, etc. some fruits have coat covered with Spikes or hooked burrs, either to prevent themselves from being eaten by animals, using them as dispersal agent. eg. unicorn plant (Heiser and Charles 2003). Many fruits are used to make beverages, such as fruit juice, (orange juice, apple juice, grape juice etc) or alcoholic beverages, such as wine or brandy. Apples are often used to make vinegar. Mcgee (2004) fruits are contaminated with parasites and some parasite infections which have direct life cycle and do not need an intermediate host to infect a new host are via feacal-orally transmitted parasites. Infections acquired through direct ingestion of infective egg or cyst is intimately linked with level of personal hygiene and sanitation in the community. Factors like the lack of latrine and adequate sewage disposal facilities have been known to contribute to the spread of the infective states of the parasites thereby bringing about a wide spread contamination of foods. Infection can be acquired through contaminated unwashed fingers, insects, circulation of currency and by wind during dry season. Contamination of fruits with eggs and cyst especially those hawked by fruit vendors may also serve as a source of infection to consumers of such fruit items. These parasites include; entamoeba histolystica, Giardia duodenace, Trichuris trichura, Ascaris Lumbricoides and Benterobius vermiculais. (World Health Organization [WHO], 2000).
Amoebiasis is known to cause about 450 million infections per annum in developing countries with an incidence of about 50 million and 100,000 deaths. Giardiais is more common in children and has a worldwide prevalence of about 130% (Wov and Paterson, 1986). Ascaris is the commonest nematodes of man especially in tropical Africa with a prevalence of about 40% in Enugu State (Reonthalaer, 1988). And may be as high as 96-100% in the rural community in Enugu State. The resistance capacity of the eggs and cyst of these parasites is a feature of profound influence on the epidemiology. Eggs of Ascaris can remain viable for up to six years. (Njom,2002). Many people who eat fresh fruit as part of an overall health diet are likely to have reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduce risk for stroke, diabetes, certain cancers such as (mouth), heart, diseases, developing kidney stone, and decreases bone loss.
Fruit reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anecephaly during fetal development (Ayer, 2001). Fruits are very important in human consumption especially health wise. Parasites that affect fruits need to be controlled in a proper process in order not to affect those that are of medially important. The major way of selecting the appropriate intervention stops to reduce population to pathogenic microorganism on fruits is to identify sources of contamination and ecology of the pathogens as it is affected by processing practices. Organism like; Samonella, cryptosproridium, cyclospora, Giardia, are among the disease causing organisms that have been transferred via fresh fruits (Sushow, 1997).The use of disinfectant like chlorine, in wash water can also help to prevent both host harvest disease and food borne illnesses. The evaluation of these medically important parasites found in fruits will depend on the knowledge of the factors contributing to the spread of such parasites including the activities of fruit vendors at Orie emene market and then affect on the distribution of these parasites.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
1. To determine the parasite of medical importance in fruit sold at Orie Emene market in Enugu State.
2. To determine whether washing of fruits with untreated water eliminates the parasites of medical importance (pathogenic parasites) from them.
3. To determine whether fruits are safe to be eaten without washing them as some people do.
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