Beware of parasites in raw/undercooked fish, warn doctors

Beware of parasites in raw/undercooked fish, warn doctors

Beware of parasites in raw/undercooked fish, warn doctors

More people in Japan are becoming infected with a parasitic worm after eating raw fish and other seafood, with medical experts pointing to a change in the way seafood is distributed nationwide, health ministry officials said Friday.

Raw fish can carry tiny worms which bury into the guts of humans if eaten, a condition known as anisakiasis, which can cause severe stomach pain, vomiting and fever.

Dr. Joana Carmo, lead author and a physician in the gastroenterology department of the Hospital of Egas Moniz in Lisbon, Portugal, and her co-authors say a physical examination indicated tenderness in the abdomen, while the lab results showed an increase in white blood cells, which is a typical sign of infection.

An endoscopy revealed that the man did, in fact, have a large, worm-like parasite growing in an enflamed area of his gut.

Doctors proceeded to perform an endoscopy on the man, and inserted a long tube with a camera into the stomach.

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Two views of the parasite, seen here firmly attached to an area of the patient's upper gastrointestinal tract.

Doctors cleared the man's worms out of his gut using a special retrieval net and the patient's symptoms were nearly immediately gone.

They added that most cases of anisakiasis to date had been reported in Japan.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and complications such as digestive bleeding and bowel obstruction and perforation.

Not all sushi is made with raw fish, much of it is cooked.

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Writing in the journal BMJ Case reports, the team warn that with sushi in vogue in the west, awareness of anisakiasis is growing. On laboratory analysis, it was proved that the larva belonged to the Anisakis species.

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.

To help reduce the risk of illness caused by eating fish or squid, the Food and Drug Administration has food safety programs and hazard reduction procedures (PDF) that distributors of fish and squid are expected to follow.

"This will ensure that any undetected Anisakis larvae are killed".

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