Scientists have recently discovered that the Japanese broad tapeworm, known to infect salmon in the Asia-Pacific region, has infected fish in U.S. waters as well.
According to several news outlets, including US News, the first known human case was reported in 2008. Roman Kuchta, lead researcher on this new report based in the Czech Republic, has said that the tapeworm is confirmed to be present in wild pink salmon from the Alaskan Pacific.
These new findings are based off of an analysis of 64 wild salmon from five different species caught off the coast of Alaska. Fish in this analysis were found to contain the tapeworm larvae.
While the infection is usually not “dangerous”, some affected can suffer from symptoms ranging from abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss as well as deficiency in vitamin B12.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Japanese broad tapeworm parasite can grow up to 30 feet long in the human body, and most people who become infected actually suffer no symptoms, although 20% do experience abdominal pain and diarrhea.
More serious cases of infection can potentially lead to intestinal obstruction or gallbladder inflammation, which can in turn result in numbness, disruption of balance, and problems with thinking and memory.
Around 2,000 cases of broad tapeworm infection have thus far been reported in humans, with them majority of them in northeastern Asia.
While eating uncooked food presents an inherent risk of contracting the parasite among other hazards, freezing the food for several days should normally kill it. Furthermore, the infection itself is treatable via medication such as praziquantel (Biltricide) and niclosamide (Niclocide).