The scary parasitic infection you could get from eating sushi.
Are you a fan of sushi? Many people are. The Southeast Asia health food is only growing in popularity, but with it comes a terrifying health risk.
Gnathostomiasis is the name of the parasitic infection in which worms can make their way into your eyeballs and even your brain from under cooked food, including sushi.
The infection can come from the following sources-
- undercooked or raw freshwater fish
Of course, not all sushi comes raw, but if you are a fan of the raw variety, look out for the following symptoms which may be a sign of gnathostomiasis–
- abdominal or right upper quadrant pain
Symptoms usually appear around 24 hours after ingestion, and are quite severe, so you will have the warning signs if you have been infected.
The parasitic worm makes its way through your body, and this process is said to be very painful. The parasite can take a hold of many of your organs very quickly and can do damage to the liver, the nerves, the spinal cord, the eye, resulting in vision loss and blindness. If the parasite makes its way into the brain it can result in nerve pain, paralysis, coma, and even death.
Symptoms also sometimes include painful swellings in the form of edema on the skin which causes large painful blisters which can last between 1-4 weeks, and can even reappear when you think they have gone.
In many cases, the only way to treat gnathostomiasis is by surgical removal of the parasite, which can be a difficult and painful process.
In the video below, Dr. Greger outlines some real life cases of gnathostomiasis and highlights the main points about this scary condition.
The best way to avoid contracting gnathostomiasis is to always ensure your food is cooked all the way through. When cooking for yourself this is easier, but when traveling it can be less so.
When travelling through a new country and environment it can be tempting to try new foods and to eat as the ‘locals’ do, but as gnathostomiasis is very prevalent in Southeast Asia, and this is a popular tourist spot, it is easier for people who are unfamiliar with raw foods to put themselves in gastro-danger.
If you are eating sushi, it is best to opt for items that do not contain raw fish and meats, and instead go for cooked meat and vegetables.