The story described in detail in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is enough to scare many people away from this traditional Japanese dish made of raw fish.
A young woman had a worm removed from her mouth just a few days after eating sashimi. Alive and kicking, the animal was hiding in her left tonsil.
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The unfortunate 25-year-old patient came to St. Luke’s Hospital (Tokyo) and complained of a sore throat that had persisted for five days. After the examination, the doctors discovered a worm living in her left tonsil and decided to remove it with forceps. The black worm, who was no less than 1.5 inches long, had no lasting effect on the young woman’s health, and her blood tests showed no signs of complications.
— Am J Trop Med Hyg (@AJTMH) July 8, 2020
The worm in question belongs to a species called Pseudoterranova azarasi, an unusual parasite that lives in fish and marine mammals. If the fish meats are not cooked well enough, the worm could move to the mouth of the person eating the meat, which causes the ” tingling throat syndrome” in humans. This can lead to sore throats, tingling and coughing.
Consuming raw fish also increases the risk of catching a tapeworm that nests in our digestive tract and causes nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Parasites of the same type, called anisakis, can also cause an allergic reaction when transmitted through the human body.
The growing popularity of sashimi, which is increasingly consumed around the world, increases the spread of these ills. Raw fish is usually processed to eliminate parasites. American and European health regulations stipulate that animals must be frozen at minus twenty degrees for seven days before consumption, but this process is not infallible. The number of anisakis contaminations in the United States has increased 238 times in the last ten years.