Note: This article contains graphic content.
An 8-year-old girl in Taipei, Taiwan, was brought into the pediatric emergency room this week after she complained to her parents that she was experiencing a weird itching sensation.
According to Apple Daily, the girl started feeling ill after eating raw fish at a sushi restaurant.
She told doctors at the Tri-Service General Hospital that her anus itched.
According to the Centers for Disease Control [CDC], diphyllobothrium latum, also known as the broad tapeworm, is one of the six most common tapeworm species that infect humans. Diphyllobothrium latum is typically found in fish.
It was previously assumed that human tapeworm infections were predominantly a health risk for eating raw fish in Asia. But according to CNN, a recent CDC journal reported that wild caught salmon off the coast of Alaska have been found to carry parasites.
In fact, a woman in Livonia, Michigan found a parasite moving on a fish in Costco earlier this week.
ABC 7 spoke to Patricia Wilkerson-Uddyback, a doctor at the Detroit Medical Center, after the incident and learned that parasites are more common than people might think:
“There are parasites everywhere. They are in most of our food. The key is that when we freeze our food, or when we cook it, they die, and they don’t cause any harm.”
Fortunately, human tapeworm infections are not as common as the parasite itself. Chicago Tribune reported that only two thousand infections have been reported, most of them from Asia.
The risk of getting infected by tapeworm while eating raw sushi is low, but it is a risk.
People who do eat raw or undercooked foods, including fish, beef, and pork, should be aware of the risks they are taking and report these foods to their doctor if they start feeling ill.
Adult tapeworms live in the small intestine and can grow between 10 to 30 feet long.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most patients will not show symptoms of tapeworms. Despite the large size, tapeworms can easily be misdiagnosed for other illnesses.
Some symptoms of infection can include, but are not limited to, white ‘rice shaped’ bits in stool, weight loss, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weakness. If any of these symptoms are present, it is recommended that you seek medical attention.
In the case of the young girl in Taipei, the tapeworm was alive and more than eight feet long when it was removed. Doctors at the hospital estimated that it had been in her body for a month.