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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Molecular Genetics, Genomics, and Phylogenetics of Foodborne Zoonotic Parasites Affecting Food Safety and Public Health

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases

Title: Sarcocystosis

item Yang, Zhaoqing -
item Yuan, Lili -

Submitted to: Protozoan Diseases
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 10, 2011
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: This book chapter reviews human Sarcocystosis- disease contracted by the consumption of infected meats. The chapter provides a broad overview of the biology and epidemiology of these foodborne parasites, and then focuses on a body of research that has heretofore only appeared in the Chinese scientific literature. It outlines aspects of risk assessment that require additional study, and highlights the international nature of this problem and its future investigation. This information will benefit veterniary and medical students and professionals and members of the general public, food producers, and public health personnel seeking information about zoonotic parasites and how to best ensure food safety.

Technical Abstract: Species of Sarcocystis may be acquired either be eating meat in which such parasites have encysted, or by ingesting food or water contaminated with oocysts excreted by carnivorous definitive hosts. The genus encompasses hundreds of named species cycling between herbivorous intermediate hosts and carnivorous definitive hosts. Only two species pose known risks to human health (via the consumption of uncooked beef or pork). Improved diagnostic methods should enable a fuller assessment of their impact on public health, and may identify related parasites that also induce human illness. Accurately assessing zoonotic risk is complicated by the fact that healthy people experience little if any risk from a variety of Sarcocystis types that commonly parasitize our food animals or that may be found to contaminate our water and produce. The components of the human diet are varied, as are our culinary customs, hygienic conditions, and immunological status. Such variation should be borne in mind when considering the actual or potential impact of parasites acquired via ingestion.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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