It all started when the unnamed man, who loves raw fish so much he reportedly eats it daily, felt sick, experiencing abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea. While in the bathroom, he noticed something hanging out of his body.
“He grabs it, and he pulls on it, and it keeps coming out,” emergency physician Dr. Kenny Banh recounted on a recent episode of the podcast This Won’t Hurt A Bit. Banh was the doctor on call at the local emergency room in Fresno where the man went. Banh said the man then held it in front of him and “it starts moving.”
Banh continues to say the man, who asked to be treated for worms, was carrying a plastic bag in his hand. In it, Banh said he saw the worm wrapped around a cardboard toilet paper tube. Banh would soon discover it to be a 5-1/2-foot-long tapeworm after unraveling it onto paper towels on the emergency room floor.
No, the man didn’t just arrive from a foreign country or do anything unusual that could have exposed him to the parasite, according to Banh. Instead, Banh would discover the man just really loved raw salmon sashimi.
The risk of getting a tapeworm from eating raw or undercooked fish is low, but it’s still possible. Around this time last year, it was reported that the tapeworm known to infect salmon from the Asian Pacific was also present in fish from U.S. waters.
The best way to protect yourself? Eat seafood that’s been thoroughly cooked. If cooked seafood isn’t your jam, experts also recommend only buying raw or undercooked fish from restaurants that are up to par with their health grades and have great food-storage practices.
So, you might want to rethink the sushi you pick up from convenience stores. Because as we’ve learned from the man in this story, pulling a 5-foot tapeworm from your body just isn’t worth it.