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Published: Mon, May 15, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Sushi warning after man gets parasitic disease

Sushi warning after man gets parasitic disease

Doctors said the increasing trend for eating raw fish has been linked to a rise in parasitic infections.

A new study gives sushi eaters a reason to take it easy, reporting there's been an uptick in anisakiasis, a stomach infection caused by a worm that lives in fish, but can easily relocate to your stomach or intestines.

It was determined that the parasite stemmed from a condition called anisakiasis. Endoscopy - the insertion of a long tube with a camera on the end down the gullet and into the stomach - revealed the larva of a worm-like parasite firmly attached to an area of swollen and inflamed gut lining.

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.

BMJ Case Reports this week published an article citing the advice of the Lisbon doctors who treated the Portuguese victim, and warned other clinicians to consider whether sushi might be responsible for any patient admitted to hospital with pain, nausea, vomiting, bowel obstruction and bleeding.

Previously, cases of anisakiasis were mainly seen in Japan.

Anisakiasis is more common in Japan but, as sushi acquired popularity in the west, more such cases started occurring there, too. According to the laboratory analysis, the larva belonged to the species of Anisakis. It was a lot less freaky to eat raw fish of such high quality, but it turns out the cavalier attitude so many of us have about sushi could have serious consequences.

Experts say the disease is found in certain types of fish that have been contaminated by a parasite. Most cooking methods destroy the parasites, drawing a distinction between the safety of raw fish and cooked fish.

Parasite infection by raw fish is rare, but involves mainly three kinds of parasites: Clonorchis sinensis (a trematode/fluke), Anisakis (a nematode/roundworm) and Diphyllobothrium, a (cestode/tapeworm), all with gastrointestinal, but otherwise distinct, symptoms.

But my guess is that's not a super-realistic prescription, so there's also this: Only eat super-fresh raw seafood from legitimate restaurants that have great hygiene and food-storage practices. Carmo said that trained sushi chefs could detect the worms because they are "grossly visible".

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