A Large Scale Study of the Epidemiology and Risk Factors for the Carcinogenic Liver Fluke Opisthorchis viverrini in Udon Thani Province, Thailand

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Udon Thani, Thailand.

2 Northeast Liver Fluke Research and Outreach Unit, Faculty of Science, Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Udon Thani, Thailand.

3 Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand.

4 Na-Di Hospital of Health Promotion, Muang district, Udon Thani, Thailand.

5 Nong-Sang Hospital of Health Promotion, Nong Wua Sor district, Udon Thani, Thailand.

6 Khu-Kaew Hospital, Provincial Health Office, Ministry of Public Health, Udon Thani, Thailand.


 Opisthorchis viverrini infection and cholangiocarcinoma are serious problems in South East Asia. This study aimed to find the prevalence of opisthorchiasis in various hosts in Udon Thani Province. Total fecal samples were collected from 14,766 participants. The epidemiological data collected and analysed included prevalence and intensity of infection. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated to determine the associations between cross sectional data and to predict possible risk factors. The prevalence of O. viverrini infection in Udon Thani Province averaged 15.3% (eggs per gram (epg.) = 48.9 and range; 12-1,320), with differences between villages (range; 3.8%-79.8%). An age-dependence for infection was observed to increase from ages 25 to 50 years and then decrease for older participants. A univariate analysis identified risk parameters including age (p = 0.040; OR = 3.9 (95% CI = 1.2-7.5)), education (p<0.0001; OR = 7.3 (95% CI = 1.8-21.6)) and eating habits (p = 0.032; OR = 1.6 (95% CI = 0.5-3.7)). Interestingly, most participants were not aware of treatments such as praziquantel (p< 0.0001; OR = 3.5 (95% CI = 1.4-11.6)), had no history of parasitic treatment (p = 0.486; OR = 1.5 (95% CI = 0.5-3.5)) and had eaten raw fish (p = 0.04; OR = 7.4 (95% CI = 1.5-18.6)). Liver fluke infection in dogs (18.1%, epg. = 44.7, range; 32-96) was significantly higher than in cats (11.0%, epg. = 117.8, range; 44-372) (p<0.05). A positive association between O. viverrini infection in dogs and their owners was found. In addition, cyprinid fish dominantly infected by metacercaria including Henicorhynchus siamensis (27.7%), Cyclocheilichthys repasson (21.9%), Hampala dispar (14.1%), and Barbonymus gonionotus (6.9%). This study provides basic information required for the development of future effective and sustainable strategies to reduces infection rates, mainly by providing health education and encouraging behavioural changes.


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