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What is anisakiasis: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

fish poisoning

Anisakiasis: what it is, how to recognize it, what are the symptoms and possible treatments for Anisakis infection.

Anisakiasis or anisakidosis is a rare disease caused by the consumption of raw or undercooked fish . It is caused by Anisakis, a type of parasitic worm that infects some species of fish. These worms can cause an infection when accidentally ingested. The worms penetrate the intestinal wall and can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, including severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

More common in countries where cooking involves a lot of raw or undercooked fish, such as Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden, it is becoming more common in the United States and other parts of the world due to the increased awareness of the health risks associated with eating raw fish due to the increased availability of sushi or similar dishes. Let's find out together the most common symptoms, how to prevent it and possibly cure it.

Anisakiasis: what it is, diagnosis symptoms

Anisakiasis is an infection that usually occurs after ingestion of larvae of the species Anisakis, a type of roundworm common in some fish and shellfish. If left untreated, it can cause serious gastrointestinal problems and organ damage. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases fever. These symptoms typically appear within a day or two of eating undercooked foods.

fish poisoning
fish poisoning

In some cases where the larvae complete their migration, people may experience an intense localized reaction , such as swelling and redness. This can be accompanied by severe itching. In severe cases, anisakidosis can cause an allergic reaction, such as hives, wheezing, and anaphylaxis.

If you suspect you have been infected, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Diagnosis is typically based on the results of a physical exam conducted by a doctor, as well as other tests such as X-rays and various laboratory tests. In some cases, a sample of the larvae may be taken and sent for analysis.

Prevention and treatment for Anisakis infection

Anisakis infection, also known as anisakiasis, is an increasingly common condition caused by contact with this parasite commonly found in marine fish. In recent times, the number of cases has increased due to the growing popularity of raw fish dishes. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to both prevent and treat Anisakis infection.

The most important thing to do is always cook the fish thoroughly; the Anisakis parasite is destroyed in temperatures of 60 degrees or higher . When eating raw fish, it's important to buy it from a reputable source, as the Anisakis parasite could be living in the tissue of the fish. Freezing fresh fish at temperatures of at least -20 degrees or lower for 24 hours or more can also kill the parasite.

If you experience symptoms of Anisakis infection, you should see a doctor right away. Treatment often involves medications, including antibiotics and antiparasitic drugs , which can be taken by mouth, injected, or given intravenously. In severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery to remove the parasite from the body.

While it's undoubtedly an unpleasant experience, the good news is that it can be prevented and treated. Just make sure you follow safe cooking techniques or buy from a reputable source when consuming raw fish, to be almost entirely certain of avoiding infection.

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