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FIRST PUBLICATION, JUNE 2013. The Bioscientist. Vol. 1

The Bioscientist, Vol. 1(1):1-5, May 2013.
Available online at http://www.bioscientistjournal.com
Ekwunife et al., 2013. Page 1

The Role of Date Palm Fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the Transmission of
Geohelminths in Nigeria.

*Ekwunife C.A, Uzoma E.M , Nwaorgu O.C, Ozumba N.A, Aribodor D.N. and Ezeunala M.N.
Department of Parasitology and Entomology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka,Anambra state, Nigeria. 1Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology, National Institute of Pharnaceutical Research and Development, Idu Abuja Nigeria.

*Corresponding author’s email –drchye@yahoo.com


The consequences of human infection with soil transmitted helminths (geohelminths) is of major health concern in developing countries. The transmission of such helminths are promoted by poor sanitation and personal hygiene such as insanitary handling of fruits and vegetables. A study to ascertain the geohelminths associated with Date palm fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in Nigeria was conducted between February and July 2012. One thousand dry Date fruits each was purchased from three different locations ( eastern, western, northern) of Nigeria. A total of 3000 fruits was acquired. Each of the fruits was washed in 10ml normal saline. Forty to fifty fruits were washed daily. Formol-ether concentration technique was employed to concentrate the parasites in the water. Sediments observed were placed on a glass slide and observed microscopically using x10 and x40 objective lens, for possible parasite ova. Of the 3000 Date fruits examined, 1057(35.2%) were contaminated with ova of parasites. Of the contaminated 1057 fruits, 701(66.3%) haboured soil transmitted helminths while 356 (33.7%) contained other parasites. Identified geohelminths include ova of Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichura and Hookworm. Ascaris lumbricoides was the most prevalent parasite encountered and this was statitically significant (p<0.05). The number of fruits contaminated did not vary significantly (p>0.05) with the regions of Nigeria where the fruits were purchased. Date fruits which is highly patronized by travellers in Nigeria due to its sweetness, cheapness and high nutritional value are associated with geohelminths. The dry fruits are often eaten as soon as they are bought by travellers. The contamination could possibly be as a result of insanitary handling by both hawkers and buyers, who dip their hands into the fruit heaps in receptacles to select or taste the fruit before purchase. It is therefore advocated among other measures, that cleaning and washing of the fruits before consumption will aid in breaking the transmission cycle of these parasites.

Keywords: Date fruit, Geohelminth, Hygiene

© 2013. Journal of Faculty of Biosciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University,

P. M. B. 5025 Awka, Nigeria.

email: thebioscientist@unizik.edu.ng

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