In Southeast Asia, swamp eels (Synbranchidae: Monopterus spp.) are a common source of human gnathostomiasis, a foodborne zoonosis caused by advanced third-stage larvae (AL3) of Gnathostoma spp. nematodes. Live Asian swamp eels are imported to US ethnic food markets, and wild populations exist in several states. To determine whether these eels are infected, we examined 47 eels from markets and 67 wild-caught specimens. Nematodes were identified by morphologic features and ribosomal intergenic transcribed spacer–2 gene sequencing. Thirteen (27.7%) M. cuchia eels from markets were infected with 36 live G. spinigerum AL3: 21 (58.3%) in liver; 7 (19.4%) in muscle; 5 (13.8%) in gastrointestinal tract, and 3 (8.3%) in kidneys. Three (4.5%) wild-caught M. albus eels were infected with 5 G. turgidum AL3 in muscle, and 1 G. lamothei AL3 was found in a kidney (both North American spp.). Imported live eels are a potential source of human gnathostomiasis in the United States.
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Gnathostoma spinigerum in live Asian swamp eels (Monopterus spp.) from food markets and wild populations, United States