The broad tapeworm, Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, has been detected in wild pink salmon from Alaska, leading researchers to believe that salmon from at least American and Asian Pacific coasts can be potentially risky to humans who eat the fish raw.
Experts are now anxious that people who love to eat raw fish might not be willing to give up their preferences. Affected salmon is largely from along the American and Asian Pacific coasts, the CDC says. Massive infections, however, could see intestinal inflammation and painful swelling of the bile ducts, reports the Washington Post. Four species are known to carry it: chum salmon, masu salmon, pink salmon, and sockeye salmon. Almost all of the previous cases of infection from this tapeworm had occurred in Japan, South Korea and the Pacific coast of Russian Federation had been caused by the Japanese tapeworm, not diphyllobothrium latum.
Researchers discovered the larva of a Japanese tapeworm in salmon from Hope, AK. Although the risk of contracting the tapeworm from sushi is low, it exists, according to Dr. Amesh Adalja, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Health Security.
The scientists later discovered that the parasite is more risky than they had thought.
Most tapeworm infections are discovered when an individual sees bits of tapeworm in their stool. Because these salmon are exported on ice - unfrozen - and then appear in restaurants around the world, infections caused by the Japanese tapeworm may occur anywhere, from China to Europe, from New Zealand to Ohio. This Japanese tapeworm was a parasite previously believed to only infect fish located in or near Asia. According to doctors, only the rarest cases produce symptoms more severe than abdominal irritation.
Scientists know very little about Japanese broad tapeworms, but do know that they're related to another species, Diphyllobothrium latum, which can grow up to 30 feet long (gulp). "Because we do things that we haven't done before", Schaffner said. We detected Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense plerocercoids in the musculature of wild pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) from Alaska, USA. According to CDC, the parasite can be destroyed when fish is adequately cooked or frozen.
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