Physicians are now airing their concern over the dangers of consuming raw seafood, especially fish, which happens to be the main ingredient in sushi.
In an article published on BMJ Case Reports last week, doctors cited the case of a 32-year-old Portuguese man who suffered severe stomach pain after eating sushi at a Japanese restaurant. The ordeal, which involved a low-grade fever and vomiting, lasted for a week before he was hospitalized.
Through a non-invasive visualization procedure called upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, the doctors found a larval worm firmly attached to a swollen part of his intestinal mucosa with its end penetrating his stomach.
The doctors “caught” the parasite using a special retriever called a Roth net, which is often used to remove polyps from the colon and other foreign objects lodged in the digestive tract.
The patient apparently suffered from a condition called anisakiasis, which was caused by the problematic sushi that contained the larva belonging to the anisakis species.
Dr. Joana Carmo, lead author of the article, said (via Fox 5):
“Anisakis can infect salmon, herring, cod, mackerel, squids, halibut and red snapper… A few decades ago, doctors did not know this infection.”
Infection cases were mainly found in Japan due to its frequent ingestion of raw fish. However, instances in Western societies that are now starting to appreciate sushi are growing.
“Owing to changes in 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,” the authors wrote. “Patients can have allergic symptoms. Gastrointestinal symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and complications like digestive bleeding, bowel obstruction, perforation and peritonitis can also arise.”
Unfortunately, death can occur in cases of severe anaphylactic reactions, where the parasites interfere with heart functions and respiration, HeatStreet noted.
To kill parasites, the Food and Drug Administration recommends cooking seafood to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius), according to LiveScience, meaning avoiding sushi altogether is the safest option.