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Background: Vegetable consumption is a major source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre for the body. While fresh vegetables play a key role in the prevention of some chronic diseases, cancers, and alleviation of micronutrient deficiencies, some have been associated with foodborne parasitic infections.
Objectives: We investigated the parasitic contamination of fresh vegetables sold in three market places in the Cape Coast Metropolis in Ghana.
Materials and Methods: In this study conducted over a period of three (3) months, a total of one hundred and twenty-six (126) vegetable samples were obtained from three (3) selected markets in the Metropolis. Six (6) different species of vegetables namely tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), cabbage (Brassica oleracea var capitata), carrot (Daucus carota), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), spring onion (Allium fistulosum) and green pepper (Capsicum annuum) were subjected to parasitological examination for the detection of parasite forms such as larvae, ova and cysts.
Results: The overall prevalence of parasitic contamination of vegetables in this study was 52.4%. Five different parasites were detected namely Strongyloides spp, Hookworm, Trichuris trichiura, Ascaris lumbricoides and Entamoeba coli. The prevalence of parasitic contamination was higher in leafy vegetables such as spring onions (90.5%), lettuce (76.2%) and cabbage (66.7%). Multiple parasitic contaminations were a common feature of leafy vegetables than smoothly surfaced ones such as green pepper and tomatoes.
Conclusion: The study revealed that most vegetables purchased from the markets in the metropolis were highly contaminated with intestinal parasites. It is therefore recommended that vegetables should be subjected to thorough disinfection processes before being served for food to reduce the transmission of intestinal parasites.