Raw or insufficiently cooked fish dishes, Food preparation, Raw fish consumption, Liver fluke, Laos, Opisthorchiasis, Opisthorchis viverrini
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
ACTA TROPICA; Vol.127 2; 105-111
Consumption of raw or insufficiently cooked fish is a major public health concern in Southeast Asia, and in Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), in particular. We aimed to assess the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practices of villagers in liver fluke endemic areas related to raw fish preparation, consumption and its health consequences. In February 2010, eight focus group discussions (FGDs, 35 men and 37 women total) and direct observations were conducted in four randomly selected villages in Saravane District, Saravane Province (Lao PDR). FGDs distilled the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practices of adult community members on raw fish preparation, consumption and its consequences for health. Conversations were transcribed from notes and tape-recorders. MaxQDA software was used for content analysis. Knowledge regarding the health effects of raw fish consumption was heterogeneous. Some participants did not associate liver fluke infection with any ill health, while others linked it to digestive problems. Participants also associated vegetables and tree leave consumption with liver fluke infection. The majority of FGD participants considered fish flesh that had been prepared with weaver ant extract to be safe for consumption. Visual appearance, taste, smell and personal preference were given as reasons for consuming raw fish dishes. Moreover, participants considered it a traditional way of food preparation, practiced for generations in Laos. Ten different fish dishes that use raw or fermented fish were identified. All FGD participants reported consuming dishes with raw fish. This study reveals a low degree of knowledge among local people on the health risks related to frequent consumption of raw or insufficiently cooked fish. Fish dishes were considered to be 'well-prepared' (that is, 'cooked') even though the fish had not been heated. In future, successful health education campaigns will have to address the specific knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practices of the concerned population. (c) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.