sushi is one of the most favorite Japanese dishes in the United States and is consumed by many people. However, a new study indicates that a new illness named anisakiasis caused by a parasite that dwells in raw sea food is on rise in the western countries. The researchers gained knowledge about the illness after studying the health conditions of a 32-year old man who was infected by this disease after consuming sushi.

Parasite in sushi harmful for health?

The 32-year old man after consuming sushi developed severe pain in the upper gut along with high fever.

The man’s physical examination showed a tender abdomen and increase in the white blood cells, which is deemed a typical sign of infection for anisakiasis. The discovery was made by lead author of the study Dr. Joana Carmo and her team.

The doctors – based on the patient’s dietary information – decided to perform an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, which is a form of non-invasive surgical examination of the digestive tract. The process employs a flexible tube with a camera and light at the end for clear vision. During the endoscopy it was seen that a parasite was leached upon a swollen intestinal membrane with its end penetrating the stomach.

Anisakiasis infections

The first case of anisakiasis human infection was recorded in the Netherlands during the 1960s.

At that time, the disease developed after the patient had consumed some light salted herring. Thus initially the disease was known as the “herring worm disease.”Since then, many cases of anisakiasis have come to the fore, most of which have been noted in Japan, which is largely due to the “frequent ingestion of raw fish.”

Even though the parasite can survive inside the human digestive tract as larvae, it will eventually die out before developing into an adult.

However, during its lifetime inside the human intestine, the parasite is known to produce an inflamed mass in the stomach, intestine, or the oesophagus. However, physicians state that keeping the worm untreated and waiting for its end as part of its natural lifecycle may prove harmful for human health.

FDA regulations for raw food consumption

To lessen the risk of the parasite infection via consumption of raw fish or squid, the FDA has put forth measures regarding food safety and distribution of seafood, which all commercial outlets are bound to follow. Apart from this, the CDC also advises people to avoid consumption of raw fish and also suggests cooking seafood to an internal temperature of at least 63 degree Celsius. Carmo also mentions that freezing raw fish to a temperature as cold as -20 degrees Celsius for at least 72 hours also effectively kills the parasite.