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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 874014, 5 pages
Research Article

Spirometra (Pseudophyllidea, Diphyllobothriidae) Severely Infecting Wild-Caught Snakes from Food Markets in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Guangdong, China: Implications for Public Health

1Guangdong Provincial Wildlife Rescue Center, Guangzhou 510520, China
2Guangdong Entomological Institute (South China Institute of Endangered Animals), No. 105, Xin Gang Road West, Guangzhou 510260, China

Received 29 August 2013; Accepted 21 October 2013; Published 16 January 2014

Academic Editors: S. A. Babayan, M. Chaudhuri, and E. L. Jarroll

Copyright © 2014 Fumin Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Sparganosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the spargana of Spirometra, and snake is one of the important intermediate hosts of spargana. In some areas of China, snake is regarded as popular delicious food, and such a food habit potentially increases the prevalence of human sparganosis. To understand the prevalence of Spirometra in snakes in food markets, we conducted a study in two representative cities (Guangzhou and Shenzhen), during January–August 2013. A total of 456 snakes of 13 species were examined and 251 individuals of 10 species were infected by Spirometra, accounting for 55.0% of the total samples. The worm burden per infected snake ranged from 1 to 213, and the prevalence in the 13 species was 096.2%. More than half (58.1%) of the spargana were located in muscular tissue, 25.6% in subcutaneous tissue, and 16.3% in coelomic cavity. The results indicated that Spirometra severely infected snakes in food markets in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, implying that eating snakes has great health risk and improper cooking methods may increase the risk of Spirometra infection in humans in China. Additional steps should be considered by the governments and public health agencies to prevent the risk of snake-associated Spirometra infections in humans.