Protocol standardization for the detection of Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts in Mediterranean mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis).Int J Food Microbiol. 2019 Jun 02; 298:31-38.IJ
Marine bivalve shellfish are of public health interest because they can accumulate pollutants in their tissues. As they are usually consumed raw or lightly cooked, they are considered to be a possible source of foodborne infections, including giardiosis and cryptosporidiosis. Although data indicating contamination of shellfish with Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts have been published, comparing results from different studies is difficult, as there is no standardized protocol for the detection and quantification of these parasites in mussels, and different researchers have used different analytical approaches. The aim of this study was to identify and characterize the most sensitive protocol for the detection of Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts in shellfish. In an effort to test the sensitivity and the detection limits of the protocol, every step of the process was investigated, from initial preparation of the mussel matrix through detection of the parasites. Comparative studies were conducted, including several methods previously applied by other researchers, on commercial mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis spiked with a known number of (oo)cysts of both parasites. As preparation of the mussel matrix plays an important role in the sensitivity of the method, different techniques were tested. These included: (ia) removal of the coarse particles from the matrix with sieving, (ib) extraction of the lipids with diethyl ether, and (ic) artificial digestion of the matrix with pepsin digestion solution, and (ii) the use or not of immunomagnetic separation (IMS) for the concentration of the (oo)cysts. Pre-treatment of the mussel homogenate with pepsin digestion solution, followed by IMS, then detection with a direct immunofluorescence assay, achieved the highest sensitivity: 32.1% (SD: 21.1) of Giardia cysts and 61.4% (SD: 26.2) Cryptosporidium oocysts were recovered, with a detection limit of 10 (oo)cysts per g of mussel homogenate. The outcome of the current study was the standardization of a protocol, with defined detection limits, for the detection of these two protozoan transmission stages in mussels, in order to be used as a reference technique in future studies. Further advantages of this protocol are that it uses the whole mussel as a starting material and does not require difficult handling procedures. The method has potential to be applied in larger surveys and, potentially, to other species of shellfish for the detection of these parasites. However, the composition (lipid to protein ratio) may be of relevance for detection efficiency for some other species of shellfish.