Published: Mon, January 16, 2017
Medical | By Benjamin Edwards

Scientists Discover Japanese Tapeworm in Alaska-Caught Salmon

Scientists Discover Japanese Tapeworm in Alaska-Caught Salmon

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that wild Alaskan salmon could lead to an increased number of tapeworm in humans, including in the United States. Now that eating raw and undercooked fish has become more popular and culturally acceptable in other parts of the world, it is causing more people (who weren't being exposed to the parasite previously) to be exposed to it now. Affected salmon is largely from along the American and Asian Pacific coasts, the CDC says. "Our main intent is to alert parasitologists and medical doctors about the potential danger of human infection with this long tapeworm resulting from consumption of infected salmon imported (on ice) from the Pacific coast of North America and elsewhere".

At least four species of Pacific salmon are known to carry Japanese tapeworm infections, chum salmon, masu salmon, pink salmon and sockeye salmon.

Alaska accounts for about 90 percent of Pacific salmon commercially harvested in the United States, according to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, as cited by Alaska Dispatch News.

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As researchers continued to study this tapeworm, they discovered the original research on the tapeworm was inaccurate.

After lab testing, they established that the larvae were Japanese tapeworms. Because the Japanese version is from the same family of tapeworms, illness and symptoms should be largely the same, he said. According to the study's lead author, Roman Kuchta, massive infection, in rare cases can cause an intestinal obstruction or gallbladder inflammation. Japanese broad tapeworm can grow up to a length of 30 feet inside the human body and a person with tapeworm can have symptoms ranging from abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea and overtime, vitamin B12 deficiency. The Japanese broad tapeworm began appearing in new locations in the middle of the last decade; one Japanese visitor acquired the parasite in New Zealand in 2009, marking the country's first case. "More severe cases may require specialized consultations and complementary analyses, which are costly". "We do things that we haven't done before", Schaffner said. We detected Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense plerocercoids in the musculature of wild pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) from Alaska, USA.

Per the CDC, this Japanese parasite can be killed by making sure fish is properly cooked or frozen.

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