ANISAKIS INFECTION

Anisakiasis infection is caused by worm larvae from the Anisakis simplex complex, as well as the Pseudoterranova decipiens complex and Contracecum osculatum complex, and other anisakid species. Anisakis is a parasite that lives in marine mammals’ gastrointestinal tracts. 

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract’s mucosa becomes infected when raw or improperly prepared saltwater fish or squid are consumed; this can result in nausea and vomiting as well as abdominal pain. Endoscopy is employed for both treatment and diagnosis (such as removal of larvae).

Infection is particularly prevalent in places like Japan, Korea, and other regions where traditionally eating raw fish is popular.

SYMPTOMS

Within hours of swallowing the larvae, symptoms of anisakis infection may include stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Small intestine involvement is less frequent and may cause an inflammatory mass and subacute symptoms that appear to be Crohn’s disease one to two weeks later. Occasionally, ectopic infections beyond the gastrointestinal tract’s lumen can happen. Anisakiasis usually goes away on its own after a few weeks; sometimes, it lasts for months.

If you notice these symptoms, make sure to see a doctor immediately.

DIAGNOSIS

Evaluating your symptoms and medical history typically leads to the diagnosis of anisakiasis infection. During a physical examination, the doctor will then attempt to detect the 2 cm long larvae. Other alternative methods include the following: 

  • Possibly albendazole
  • Endoscopic removal of the larvae

TREATMENT

Most individuals get spontaneous improvement without any treatment. The worm can be surgically removed if necessary. If surgery is not required, prescribed drugs can be useful. 

Prevention

Don’t eat squid or fish that has been undercooked or raw. 

To eliminate parasites from seafood during preparation or storage, the FDA suggests the following:

Freezing Fish

  • 7 days at or below -4 °F (-20 °C) (total time).
  • 15 hours at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid, then 15 hours at -31°F (-35°C) or below. 
  • Store for 24 hours at -4°F (-20°C) or lower, or at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid. 

Cooking the Seafood in General

  • Cook seafood thoroughly (to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F or 63° C).

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