March 29, 2017

Scientists: US salmon may carry Japanese tapeworm

16 January 2017, 12:53 | Elizabeth Houston

CDC: Alaskan Wild Salmon May Have Japanese Tapeworm

Health officials have warned that salmon caught off the coast of Alaska may contain tapeworm and that people are at risk of infection if it is eaten under-cooked

The 40-year-old discovered that a meter-long "tape-shaped object" had "emerged from his anus", according to a 2012 article in BMJ Case Reports. The first case of tapeworm infestation in North America was in 2008. The parasite was thought to infest only fish from the waters of Asia Pacific but now there are studies that show that these are also present in wild pink salmon coming from the Alaskan Pacific. The CDC tells that who want to be safe from the infection should eat the frozen or cooked fish. "With gene sequencing, they were identified as Japanese tapeworms". Based on the findings, four species of Pacific salmon are now known to be carriers of the Japanese tapeworm infection namely the chum salmon, pink salmon, masu salmon, and sockeye salmon. The researchers now fear that these Japanese tapeworms could now be affecting the salmon caught in the United States.

Those who are at risk of becoming infected with diphyllobothrium are those who consume raw or undercooked fish. But before any sushi lover's warning bells start chiming too loudly, the vast majority of raw salmon on the market does not come with the risk of a new type of parasitic infection. This view is supported by Jayde Ferguson, a co-author of the new study and a scientist at Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He said talk of "emerging infections" or new infections comes about, in part, because new scientific methods are able to identify them.

The incidence of acquiring a tapeworm in the United States, though possibly underestimated, is quite low. However, in 1986, researchers found out that there was another species of the same family which was later called the Japanese broad tapeworm.

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However, the tapeworm infection seems to be uncommon as only about 2,000 cases have been reported in humans, mostly from northeastern Asia, Kuchta says. "We do things that we haven't done before", Schaffner said.

The study concluded, "salmon from the American and Asian Pacific coasts and elsewhere pose potential dangers for persons who eat these fish raw". "Because these salmon are exported on ice - unfrozen - and then appear in restaurants around the world, infections caused by the Japanese tapeworm may occur anywhere, from China to Europe, from New Zealand to Ohio", Scutti continued.

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