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Tapeworm in Salmon: Japanese Parasite Found in Alaskan-Caught Fish

Image: Tapeworm in Salmon: Japanese Parasite Found in Alaskan-Caught Fish

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By    |   Friday, 13 Jan 2017 01:03 PM

A tapeworm commonly found in Japan has infected some wild salmon caught off Alaskan shores, creating a danger for those who eat raw or undercooked fish, according to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Based on the study funded by the Czech Science Foundation, researchers discovered Japanese tapeworms while examining 64 wild Alaskan salmon recently. The scientists were able to identify the parasites while looking at filleted salmon under a magnifying glass, CNN reported.

"They discovered larvae, between 8 and 15 millimeters long, that continually elongated and contracted (as worms are known to do)," CNN writer Susan Scutti reported. "With gene sequencing, they were identified as Japanese tapeworms."

"Based on the study results, four species of Pacific salmon are known to carry Japanese tapeworm infections: chum salmon, masu salmon, pink salmon, and sockeye salmon. Because these salmon are exported on ice — unfrozen — and then appear in restaurants around the world, infections caused by the Japanese tapeworm may occur anywhere, from China to Europe, from New Zealand to Ohio," Scutti continued.

Results of the study were released Wednesday in the monthly journal Emerging Infectious Diseases by the CDC.

"For decades, the possible occurrence of the Japanese broad tapeworm on the Pacific coast of North America was ignored, but since 2008, human infection with adult tapeworms and natural infection of carnivores (wolves and bears) with adult tapeworms have been confirmed by use of molecular markers," the study stated.

"We report finding Japanese broad tapeworm plerocercoids in North America. Our main intent is to alert parasitologists and medical doctors about the potential danger of human infection with this long tapeworm resulting from consumption of infected salmon imported (on ice) from the Pacific coast of North America and elsewhere," the study continued.

Alaska accounts for about 90 percent of Pacific salmon commercially harvested in the United States, according to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, as cited by Alaska Dispatch News. The institute states that about 6 percent of that fish is shipped fresh.

The majority of the shipped Alaskan salmon is either frozen or canned before leaving the state, according to the Dispatch News.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's online booklet about fish diseases suggests cooking fish at 140 degrees or more for at least five minutes or freezing it to 4 degrees below zero for at least 60 hours to kill any parasitic worms.

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A tapeworm commonly found in Japan has infected some wild salmon caught off Alaskan shores, creating a danger for those who eat raw or undercooked fish.
tapeworm, salmon, sushi, alaska
405
2017-03-13
Friday, 13 Jan 2017 01:03 PM
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