(WHDH) – Sushi lovers, beware: a dangerous parasite could be lurking in your favorite food.
The Centers for Disease Control warns that, although more commonly seen in countries such as Japan where eating raw fish is popular, cases are starting to arise in western countries including the U.S.
“Anyone who eats undercooked or raw fish is at risk” for Anisakiasis, which is caused by consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked seafood, the CDC’s website says.
The worm attaches itself to the stomach lining, and can cause fever, vomiting, digestive bleeding, and severe pain.
A study by BMJ Case Reports cites a 32-year-old man who developed severe symptoms that immediately disappeared once the parasite in his stomach was surgically removed.
“A previously healthy man was admitted with severe epigastric pain, vomiting and low-grade fever since the previous week,” researchers wrote. “After a careful interview, he revealed that he recently ate sushi.”
An endoscopy showed that a “filiform parasite firmly attached” itself to the man’s abdomen.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends freezing fish for several days, or cooking to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Both methods should kill any parasites that may be present. They say well-trained sushi chefs can usually see parasites during preparation and remove them.
Consumers can sometimes even remove the worms themselves, the CDC says.
“Some people experience a tingling sensation after or while eating raw or undercooked fish or squid. This is actually the worm moving in the mouth or throat,” the agency’s website reads. “These people can often extract the worm manually from their mouth or cough up the worm and prevent infection. Also, some people experience vomiting as a symptom and this can often expel the worm from the body.”
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