Uncooked fish consumption among those at risk of Opisthorchis viverrini infection in central Thailand

Suwannahitatorn, P and Webster, J P and Riley, S and Mungthin, M and Donnelly, C A (2019) Uncooked fish consumption among those at risk of Opisthorchis viverrini infection in central Thailand. PLoS One, 14 (1). e0211540.

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In contrast to northern and northeastern Thailand, central Thailand was believed not to be endemic for Opisthorchis viverrini (OV). Fieldwork conducted in a rural area of central Thailand revealed that the prevalence and incidence were relatively high compared with regional average data. We hypothesized that the behavioural-psycho-social background of the study population might play an important role in the high burden of the infection. As a result, a qualitative study was conducted to highlight potential social determinants of the infection dynamics to gain greater understanding of the risk behaviours and their contexts. A qualitative study using focus group discussion and in-depth interviews was conducted in Na-ngam Village, Chachoengsao Province from 2012–14. Framework analysis was used to explore associations between infection and thematic content. Social influence showed a strong impact on infection dynamics of OV infection. Our results revealed that Koi pla (chopped raw fish salad) remains a popular dish in the community, as the dish itself represents northeastern culture. The cultural norm had been transferred from ancestors to their descendants. Some elders complained that discontinuing the consumption of Koi pla went against old traditions with respect to cultural norms and socialization. In contrast, modern education teaches about hygiene including OV infection risks, and accordingly teenagers and young adults were reported to modify their lifestyles including their eating habits. Children are a potential key to pass knowledge to their parents and school-based education programs can serve as a practical hub for knowledge dissemination. However, health education alone might not lead to behavioural change in other age groups. Therefore, more efforts are needed to support the transformation.

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