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This worm could be lurking in your sushi, scientists warn

A parasite found in raw fish can cause severe abdominal pain and nausea.
A parasite found in raw fish can cause severe abdominal pain and nausea. Creative Commons

Sushi has grown in popularity around the world, and along with it the risk of ingesting a parasite that can be found lurking in raw fish.

Anisakiasis, also known as herring worm disease, can be caused by eating raw or undercooked fish or squid. People can ingest larvae when eating sushi, which can lead to abdominal pain, nausea, fever and diarrhea.

A report in British Medical Journal Case Reports details the case of a 32-year-old man, otherwise healthy, who developed abdominal pain, fever and vomiting. An endoscopy showed a parasite “firmly attached” in the upper gastrointestinal tract. The patient’s symptoms “resolved immediately” when it was removed, the journal said.

According to BMJ Case Reports, the disease has been common in Japan but has spread to Western countries as they have increased sushi consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “anyone who eats undercooked or raw fish or squid is at risk.”

Anisakiasis cannot be transferred between people, and the CDC recommends cooking or freezing fish to kill parasites. Seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit and fish kept for seven days should be frozen to -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

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