Fungi were isolated from fresh brown shrimps (Penaeus aztecus) purchased from three different markets in Port Harcourt using standard mycological methods. The total counts of heterotrophic fungi range from 2.0 x 104 spore forming units per gram (sfu/g) to 7.1 x 104 sfu/g, while the total counts for pathogenic fungi range from 1.7 x 104 sfu/g to 7.1 x 104 sfu/g. The heterotrophic fungi and their percentage occurrence in the head, exoskeleton and telson/uropod (H/E/T) before deterioration and about deterioration were:Aspergillus clavatus (20%), Aspergillus flavus (20%), Penicillium sp. (20%), Rhizopussp. (20%), Rhodotorula sp. (20%), Mucor hiemalis (14.3%), Penicilllium sp. (14.3%),Rhizopus sp. (14.3%), Rhizopus stolonifer (14.3%), yeast sp. (14.3%). While the pathogenic fungal occurrence before deterioration and about deterioration in the H/E/T were: A. clavatus (11.1%), A. flavus (22.2%), Penicillium sp. (33.3%), Rhizopus oryzae(11.1%), Rhodotorula sp. (11.1%), yeast sp. (11.1%), and A. clavatus (12.5%), A. flavus(12.5%), M. hiemalis (12.5%), Penicillium sp. (12.5%), Rhodotorula sp. (12.5%) and yeast sp. (37.5%). The presence of these fungi in the shrimps is attributed to contamination from the environment and from shrimp handlers (mongers). Also, some of these fungi are normal flora of the shrimp which unfortunately happens to be opportunistic pathogens or pathogens of humans. The maintenance of high personal and environmental hygiene as well as proper heating and cooking will improve fresh shrimp quality and prevent food-borne diseases.
Key words: Shrimps, contamination, pathogenic fungi, food-borne diseases.
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