Objectives: Food-borne diseases represent a persistent global health burden, and food handlers play a major role in their transmission. Staphylococcus aureus carriage and intestinal parasitism are important risk factors for the contamination of food and water. This study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus and intestinal parasites among food handlers working in Sanliurfa, Southeastern Anatolia.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 299 food handlers selected randomly were enrolled. Nasal swabs, throat cultures, and stool samples were examined.
Results: The mean age of participants was 26.7 (±9.6) years. Only 33.6 percent of food handlers had education beyond the elementary school level. Within this group, 50.8 percent had never previously received a carrier examination and only 31.4 percent received regular examinations. We found that 52.2 percent of food handlers carried intestinal parasites including Giardia intestinalis (26.8%), Ascaris lumbricoides (10.7%), Tenya saginata (10.0%), and Staphylococcus aureus (23.1%). None of the food handlers was positive for Salmonella sp and Shigella sp.
Conclusions: These findings necessitate improvements in regional carrier detection, infection control, and food hygiene. Subsequent to this study, researchers from the Department of Public Health, Harran University, instituted a series of interventions aimed at improving infection control. These included establishment of an evidence-based carrier control system, training of municipal food controllers and health professionals, creation of electronic outbreak records and follow-up procedures, and development of a source eradication system for Sanliurfa's primary healthcare center staff.