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Off The Menu - Doctors Remove Huge Tapeworm From Girl After She Ate Sushi

Sushi is a Japanese dish that has become popular across the globe. While many people enjoy sushi, it's pretty risky to eat raw fish. The slightest contamination can lead to a medical emergency. One eight-year-old girl found this out the hard way. Once you hear her story, it’s quite possible that you’ll lose your appetite for sushi for good—at least, for raw sushi.

The girl from Taiwan reportedly loves sashimi, a version of sushi made out of slices of raw fish. After a delicious dinner out with family at a restaurant, the girl went on without thinking much about it.

Later, the girl began experiencing a very uncomfortable symptom. Her rectum began itching. It just wouldn't go away, so her parents brought her to the doctor.

A pediatrician from the Tri-Service General Hospital examined her and discovered that the girl had contracted a type of tapeworm. The worm, a diphyllobothrium latum, is the largest tapeworm known to mankind. It's also often referred to as a broad tapeworm, or sometimes it's called a fish tapeworm because it's most commonly found in seafood.

The tapeworm can be contracted in any kind of contaminated raw food: pork, beef or fish. Of the three, sushi is the dish most often served up raw, and thus the most likely cause behind the parasitic worm. The girl's family told the doctors how much the girl enjoyed sashimi, and doctors assessed that she most likely contracted the worm from that.

Doctors examining the girl discovered that the worm was eight feet long, and it was still alive when doctors examined her rectum. Surgery had to be scheduled in order to remove the massive parasite. They estimate that the worm had been growing inside of the girl for at least a month, so the family thought back and realized she probably contracted it the last time they went out for sashimi.

The doctor warns the public not to eat raw foods. When fish eat tapeworm eggs, they hatch and the larvae attach themselves to the fish's intestinal wall. As they grow, they move into the flesh of the fish. When a person eats uncooked fish, the larvae then infect the person.

Tapeworms can grow up to 50 feet long in just a few weeks, and can survive up to a year in the host. It releases its own eggs, introducing more worms in the human's system. At first, symptoms can be mild, but if not treated the larvae can begin to migrate to organs such as the eyes, heart and brain, and they may cause life-threatening conditions.

If you’re a sushi lover and that story hasn't turned you off yet, you might be relieved to know that tapeworm contamination is rare, especially outside of Asia. It's also treatable. There is always a risk, but there are ways to minimize that risk.

Dr. Patrick Okolo, chief of gastroenterology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says sushi lovers can reduce the risk of contamination by making sushi at home. Bring home your high-quality fish, and freeze it for a few days. This will kill the parasites. You can then thaw it out and enjoy.

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: YouTube, Taipei Tri-Service General Hospital

Doctors removed the massive tapeworm.

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