What Is a Fish Tapeworm Infection?
tapeworm infection can occur when a person eats raw or undercooked fish that is
contaminated with the parasite Diphyllobothrium
latum. The parasite is more commonly known as the fish tapeworm.
of tapeworm grows in hosts such as small organisms in the water and large mammals
that eat raw fish. It’s passed through the feces of animals. A person becomes
infected after ingesting improperly prepared freshwater fish that contain
to the National Center for
Biotechnology Information (NCBI), this type of tapeworm parasite is most
common in areas where people eat raw or undercooked fish from lakes and rivers.
- Eastern Europe
- North and South
- some Asian countries
This may also be common in parts of Africa where freshwater
fish are eaten.
What Causes a Fish Tapeworm Infection?
tapeworm infection occurs when a person eats undercooked or raw fish that is
contaminated with fish tapeworm larvae, which then grow in the intestines. It
takes between three to six weeks before the larvae are fully grown. An adult
tapeworm can grow up to 30 feet long. It’s the largest parasite to affect
journal Emerging Infectious
Diseases published a report that examined the spread of fish tapeworm
infections in Brazil. Infections were linked to contaminated salmon farmed at
aquaculture sites in Chile. The transportation of the contaminated fish from
Chile brought the infection to Brazil, a country that hadn’t seen fish
highlighted how fish farming can spread the infection from one area to another.
The cases cited in the report all stemmed from people eating salmon sushi.
tapeworms are more common in developing countries because of sanitation, sewer,
and drinking water issues. Water contaminated with human or animal waste could
very likely contain tapeworms.
Symptoms of a Fish Tapeworm Infection
tapeworm infections rarely present noticeable symptoms. Tapeworms are most
often discovered when people notice eggs or segments of the tapeworm in stool.
Symptoms could include:
cramps and pain
hunger or lack of appetite
How Is a Fish Tapeworm Infection Diagnosed?
doctor may order a blood test to identify the presence of a parasite. However,
this type of infection is most often diagnosed by examining a person’s stool
for parasites, worm segments, and eggs.
Treating a Fish Tapeworm Infection
tapeworm infections can be treated with a single dose of medication without any
lasting problems. There are two main treatments for tapeworm infections:
praziquantel (Biltricide) and niclosamide.
- Praziquantel is used to treat
different kinds of worm infections. It causes severe spasms in the worm’s
muscles so the worm can be passed through the stool.
- Niclosamide is prescribed
specifically for tapeworm infections and kills the worm on contact. The dead
worm is later passed through the stool.
to the NCBI, treatment is
important because fish tapeworm infections can cause serious problems, such as
anemia or intestinal blockage.
Tips to Prevent Fish Tapeworm Infection
tapeworm infections can be easily prevented using the following guidelines:
fish at a temperature of 130°F (54°C) for five minutes.
fish below 14°F (-10°C).
proper food safety handling, such as washing hands and avoid
cross-contamination with raw fish and fruits and vegetables.
contact with any animal known to be infected with a tapeworm.
caution when eating and traveling in developing countries.