Sushi lovers warned of parasite danger in raw fish

Sushi lovers warned of parasite danger in raw fish

The incident highlights an increasing number of infections from a parasite found in raw fish that doctors are seeing in Western countries, as sushi dishes rise in popularity, according to a new report.

Sushi lovers are being warned of the dangers of ingesting parasites from raw and undercooked fish.

It comes after doctors in Portugal treated a 32-year-old man who was found to have larvae from a parasite attached to his gut lining.

An Italian study also advised that medical professionals should suspect the condition should patients complain of severe abdominal pain after eating raw fish, pointing out that "no effective pharmacological treatment is able to kill the larvae once eaten".

After going to hospital in Lisbon, tests showed a mild inflammation and a tenderness in the area below his ribs.

An endoscopy soon revealed the culprit: the larvae of a type of parasitic worm from the genus Anisakis.

The medics warned that "owing to changing food habits, anisakiasis is a growing disease in Western countries, which should be suspected in patients with a history of ingestion of raw or uncooked fish".

After doctors removed the larva with a special kind of net, the man's symptoms cleared up quickly.

The researchers in that case said at the time that raw fish prepared at home can contain anisakis and other unsafe parasites because the fish may not have been frozen beforehand - a process typically rendered in sushi restaurants that kills the larvae.

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

Rising numbers of people are being infected with a parasitic worm known as anisakis after eating seafood that hasn't been frozen or heated properly, local media reported Friday.

Raw fish can at times carry tiny worms that can lodge into a human gut when eaten.

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.

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