Sushi, Parasites Uptick Linked, Doctors Say

When he revealed his sushi consumption, they suspected he might have a parasitic infection.

Writing in the British journal The BMJ Case Reports, Lisbon-based researchers found a healthy 32-year-old man became violently ill after eating raw fish.

Experts say anisakis dies in three or four days even if left untreated, but recommend people to visit doctors and have the parasite removed using endoscopes as the infection is very painful.

Anisakiasis is a parasitic disease caused by anisakid nematodes (worms) that can invade the stomach wall or intestine of humans.

According to BMJ Case Reports, the growing popularity of raw fish in the West is leading to an increase in parasitic worm infections, known as anisakiasis.

And it was this that had been causing the man "severe epigastric pain, vomiting and low-grade fever" and "moderate abdominal tenderness" for about a week, the doctors wrote. On laboratory analysis, it was proved that the larva belonged to the Anisakis species.

Miguel Bao, a doctoral candidate in systems biology at the University of Aberdeen who was not involved in the new study, said Japan sees about 2,000 to 3,000 cases of diagnosed anisakiasis each year.

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They found the larvae of a worm-like parasite firmly attached to an area of swollen and inflamed gut lining.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and complications such as digestive bleeding and bowel obstruction and perforation. Freezing will kill these parasites.

Sushi has a healthy reputation - it can be low fat and high in protein - but a new report serves as a stark reminder that sushi made with raw fish can carry a risky parasite.

They added that most cases of anisakiasis to date had been reported in Japan, but warned: "However, it has been increasingly recognised in Western countries".

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people may experience a tingling sensation while eating infected raw or undercooked fish - said to actually be the worm moving in the mouth or throat.

"Properly trained sushi chefs can detect anisakis larvae", Carmo said.

  • Marjorie Miles