Even though it may come as bad news for sushi aficionados, scientists have confirmed that a tapeworm, usually found in salmon swimming in Asian-Pacific waters is now present in fish from U.S waters, as well. Commonly known as the Japanese broad tapeworm, the parasite can grow up to 30 feet long once fully matured inside its host’s body. Furthermore, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people so not even exhibit symptoms.
Only 20 percent of infected individuals, so far, have reported diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss. Once a subject comes in contact with the parasite, the tapeworm can drain its host of vitamin B12, which can lead balance, memory, and thinking, in the long run.
Good news is that only 2,000 tapeworm infections have been reported in humans since the first case was recorded in North America in 2008. Furthermore, according to the lead author of the study, Roman Kuchta, mostly northeastern Asia residents are at risk of coming into contact with the parasite.
Even though the risks of a contracting the parasite from sushi is rather low, doctors recommend caution whenever deciding on eating raw fish. Also, raw fish is not the only source of a potential tapeworm infection. The parasite, as well other foodborne pathogens such as viruses and bacteria also thrive in unpasteurized milk or other raw foods, says the spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America, Dr. Amesh Adalja.
Even though sushi lovers seem to not get scared of the prospect of potentially becoming a host for a 30-feet long parasite, Dr. Adalja recommends people that start exhibiting unusual symptoms after consuming raw fish to consult with their healthcare provider and mention their eating habits.
Ultimately, the risk of contracting the parasite from sushi is rather low, believe health experts. Nevertheless, in rare cases, a massive infection can lead to gallbladder inflammation or even intestinal obstruction. Also, when a tapeworm reached adulthood, the parasite depletes its host of vitamin B12, which may result in neurological consequences, says New York City-based Lenox Hill Hospital’s chief of gastroenterology, Dr. Patrick Okolo. Hence, if doctors come across symptoms like balance issues, memory loss, tingling, or problems processing simple information, Dr. Okolo recommends them to consider the possibility of a tapeworm infection.
image Source: Pixabay
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