A 32-year old man from Portugal was recently admitted into hospital suffering from severe stomach pains, vomiting and fever. Doctors carried out tests which revealed inflammation and tenderness in the man’s stomach region.
After questioning him about his symptoms, and discovering that he had eaten sushi recently, they quickly became concerned that he could be suffering from a parasitic infection called anisakiasis, where worms take over the intestinal lining of the stomach. These parasitic larvae are commonly “caused by the consumption of contaminated raw or under-cooked fish or seafood.”
To confirm their suspicions, the team of doctors from a hospital in Lisbon carried out an upper intestinal endoscopy, a procedure which involves inserting a tiny camera on a long tube into the stomach to get a clearer picture of the situation. Sure enough, they discovered the parasitic worms had invaded the man’s upper intestine and embedded themselves in the lining, resulting in the swelling and the rest of the unpleasant symptoms.
Using a net-like instrument, they successfully managed to extract all the worms, causing the patient’s symptoms to clear up at once.
The findings of the case were published in the online medical journal the BMJ Case Reports earlier this week. Following its media exposure, doctors have expressed concern that although the parasitic infection is mostly prevalent in Japan, the number of cases in Western countries has been on the rise recently due to the increasing demand for sushi and raw fish.
The FDA has warned fish and sushi lovers to exercise caution when preparing and consuming any kind of fish or squid; salmon and trout are also believed to be at risk of carrying the same kind of parasite. Ordering raw fish from questionable establishments is strongly discouraged as these restaurants probably do not implement proper refrigeration which is so pertinent to avoid contamination. If you intend to cook fish at home, they recommend first removing its guts, freezing it for a few days in order to kill off parasites, and then cooking at “an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.”