Research – Survey of the occurrence of Giardia duodenalis cysts and Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts in green leafy vegetables marketed in the city of Valencia (Spain)

Science Direct


The role of vegetables usually consumed without prior culinary treatment is known to contribute to the prevalence of foodborne diseases. Cysts and oocysts can contaminate food, which can then be the source of infection in humans. The aim of the study was to assess the occurrence of Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. (oo)cysts in green leafy vegetables marketed in the city of Valencia (Spain) combining parasitological methods, two real-time qPCRs and light microscopy. An experimental field study was conducted on 129 vegetable samples, 64 from conventional farms and 65 from ecological (organic) farms. The samples were washed with water, and the resulting solution after removing the vegetables, was subjected to 24-hour sedimentation. The concentrated sediment was used for the search for protozoa. A positive result by both real-time PCRs, or a positive result by one qPCR and confirmation by microscopy was established as a positivity criterion. Giardia duodenalis was detected in 23.0 % of the samples, and Cryptosporidium spp. in 7.8 %. G. duodenalis (41.5 %) and Cryptosporidium spp. (20.0 %) were more frequent in ecological crops. The high level of contamination detected in organic vegetables may be due to the type of fertilizers and the quality of the water used for their irrigation and reinforces the need to take extreme hygiene measures in vegetables that are consumed raw.

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