What is Anisakiasis?

Anisakiasis is a disease caused by the nematodes that attach itself to the walls of the intestine, stomach, or the oesophagus. This parasite gets into the human stomach from the fish or squid that is consumed raw or undercooked. Marine mammals like whales and sea lions defecate and release the eggs of these parasites into the sea. These are ingested by the fish or squid and get into the human body when they eat it raw or undercooked. Inside the body, they invade the GI tract and cause trouble.

Anisakiasis Symptoms

Sushi has become a popular food and with that, there are dangers of parasitic infections. One of the common infections is the anisakiasis which is a parasite that is found in sushi and other seafood. The anisakiasis incubation period is for a few hours and the symptoms of this disease start after a few hours. It includes:

  • Pain in the stomach
  • Vomiting, and nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever which lasts for up to a week
  • Bloody stools
  • Blood in the mucus
  • Allergic reactions like rash and itching on the belly or other areas of the body

As the parasite gets attached to the walls of the intestine it becomes swollen and inflamed. In rare cases, anaphylaxis can also occur. There have been cases where deaths have happened due to this condition in Japan where eating raw fish is common.

Who is at Risk?

The risk factors of Anisakiasis is high in:

  • People who eat raw fish
  • People who consume undercooked fish and other seafood like squid are more at risk.
  • People living in Japan, Scandinavian countries of Europe, South America are likely to develop this parasitic infection due to their eating habits.
  • People who are previously exposed to this condition are likely to develop it again.
  • People who live in a warm climate are at risk
  • Children under the age of 10 who play in the dirt
  • People who follow poor sanitization where faeces is mixed with soil.

Anisakiasis Causes

Anisakiasis, also called herring worm disease, is caused by worms or nematodes that attach itself to the walls of the stomach, esophagus, or the intestine.

  • This parasite enters the human body when consuming raw or undercooked fish or squid.
  • The worms get into the seafood from an infected mammal when it defecates into the seawater. The eggs of the parasite are released and these mature into larvae that are ingested by the crustaceans.
  • The fish or squid then eat these crustaceans and remain in them.
  • When people consume these raw or undercooked the larvae enter the GI tract and form a mass in the stomach, intestine, or esophagus.

How is Anisakiasis Diagnosed?

The anisakiasis diagnosis is done by checking the symptoms are ordering tests. Some of the tests include:

  • Stool tests are done because it begins to lay eggs in the intestine which can travel through the digestive system and can be found in stools.
  • Blood tests are done to check the presence of eosinophils
  • X-rays can provide images of the presence of worms in the abdomen
  • CT scan or MRIs can help get detailed images of the GI tract
  • An endoscopy to know the presence of worms in the various parts.

In case the person is heavily infested then the worms can come out while coughing or through vomit. If that happens the doctor can identify it and start anisakiasis cure immediately.

How is Anisakiasis Treated?

Typically, the doctor does anisakiasis treatment only if a person has symptoms as the other cases can resolve themselves. Some of the treatment options are:

  • Medications which are ant-parasitic in nature are prescribed so that it kills the adult worms and its eggs. This treatment will have side effects like diarrhea and abdominal pain.
  • Endoscopic removal of the worms is done by inserting a camera which shows where the larvae are present.
  • In case the person is heavily infested and has caused a blockage in the bile duct or the intestine surgery may be done to remove it.

Anisakiasis can cause severe discomfort and in some cases severe complications and hence it needs to be treated properly. Moreover, the symptoms are similar to other infections and hence careful diagnosis is essential. Contact our experts at carefit to get the best care for this parasitic infection.

How can Anisakiasis be Prevented?

The best anisakiasis prevention technique is to avoid undercooked or raw fish or squid. As per FDA recommendations, the following should be followed while cooking seafood.

  • Cook seafood with a temperature of at least 145 degree F
  • Freeze food at -4 degree F or less for a total time of 7 days
  • Follow proper cleaning of the seafood to remove all the contaminants.
  • Wear protective gear while cleaning seafood as worms can enter the open cuts on the skin.

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