The present study was the first attempt to survey the diversity of fish zoonotic parasites in the southern region of Saudi Arabia, particularly the Najran area, from October 2012 to October 2013. Approximately 163 fish representing seven species (two of freshwater fish and five of marine fish) were examined for fish-borne trematode metacercariae using the compression technique, and for zoonotic nematode larvae. Adult flukes were obtained from cats experimentally infected with the metacercariae on day 25 post-infection The prevalence of each parasite species was recorded. The parasites found belonged to two taxa: Digenea (Heterophyes heterophyes and Haplorchis pumilio) in muscle tissue; and nematodes (larvae of Capillaria sp.) in the digestive tract. The morphological characteristics of the fish-borne trematode metacercariae and their experimentally obtained adults were described. This is the first report of these parasites in fish in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Myripristis murdjan presented higher prevalence of Capillaria sp. infection (22.7%), while Haplorchis pumilio was the dominant metacercarial species (7.9%). Although the number of documented cases continues to increase, the overall risk of human infection is slight. The increasing exploitation of the marine environment by humans and the tendency to reduce cooking times when preparing seafood products both increase the chances of becoming infected with these parasites. Furthermore, our results indicate that certain fish production systems are at risk of presenting fish zoonotic parasites, and that control approaches will benefit from understanding these risk factors.
Zoonotic parasites; fish; Najran; prevalence; Saudi Arabia