1. Health

Cute Parasites from Sushi?

By June 18, 2009

A recent news story reported on the dangers of eating sushi, highlighting a recent case of a patient who was found to be infected with a nine-foot tapeworm after eating raw salmon. As rare as it is to get sick from eating raw fish, such as sushi (with its ever-growing popularity), parasite infections from raw fish do happen, and the consequences can be quite alarming, as poor Mr. Anthony Franz discovered.

The entire premise sounds horrifying. Imagine inadvertently consuming a tiny, perhaps even microscopic, worm while enjoying a scrumptious, not to mention very expensive, sushi dinner. Imagine that this tiny tapeworm, a parasite known as Diphyllobothrium latum, decides to make you his next host.

He lives off of you, literally sucking you of your nutrients and energy reserves, until he grows to a shocking length of 9 feet. Stretched end-to-end, this worm was nearly as tall as a basketball hoop! According to Dr. Felipe C. Cabello, professor of Microbiology and Immunology at New York Medical College in Valhalla, these worms can grow up to 25 feet long!

It's almost like carrying a baby: it lives inside you, sucks away all your energy, and grows until it reaches a size that seems unimaginable to get out. But most people don't consider their babies parasites. And most babies get credit because of the cuteness factor. Cute parasites? I think not.

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