Doctors Issue Warning About Sushi Parasites Anisakiasis

Henrietta Strickland
May 13, 2017

Yet recent estimates suggest that about 8,000 annual anisakiasis cases may be occurring in Spain due to consumption of raw and marinated anchovies, Bao said.

A team of doctors from Portugal raised concerns after a 32-year old man was admitted to hospital complaining of pain in his abdomen just below his ribs, vomiting and had a slight fever, all of which had lasted for a week.

A study in the British Medical Journa l says the rise in the number of parasitic infections such as anisakiasis could be linked to eating sushi.

A physical examination showed he had "moderate abdominal tenderness" but it was only after doctors found out he had eaten sushi that they suspected he had anisakiasis, a parasitic disease caused by worms that can invade the stomach wall or intestine of humans. Using an endoscope - a flexible tube with a camera - doctors examined the man's upper digestive tract, and were able to see the parasite attached to his gut lining.

The physicians are advising medical professionals to keep the condition in mind when attempting to treat patients who have recently eaten raw or undercooked fish and are experiencing pain, nausea, vomiting, bowel obstruction or bleeding.

Similar cases have been reported in Japan, the authors said, where a diet of raw fish and seafood is very common. Because this parasite is found in fish, anyone who eats raw or undercooked fish is at risk of contracting the parasite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The parasite can crop up in raw or undercooked seafood such as cod, fluke, haddock and monk fish.

"The treatment for anisakiasis may require removal of the worm from the body by endoscopy or surgery", according to the organization. One rule of thumb is to eat fish that has been previously frozen, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The ministry is calling on people to choose fresh fish and remove internal organs swiftly, avoid eating internal organs uncooked and look at fish closely and remove anisakis if found.

"For example, freezing fish to the appropriate temperature and for the appropriate duration can kill parasites", Rowland said. "This will ensure that any undetected Anisakis larvae are killed".

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