Intestinal parasites on the rise

Here in the U.S., where food is certified and regulated, you don’t expect to come away from a restaurant with an intestinal parasite.

However, just because these infections don’t run rampant does not mean that they don’t happen. In fact, several types of intestinal parasites might just be gaining ground in Western countries.

One type of intestinal parasite that may be increasing is often found in sushi. The fact that more cases are occurring in developed areas doesn’t mean that more fish are infected. Instead, it reflects people’s increased interest in eating raw fish as a meal.

In one case published in the journal BMJ Case Reports, a healthy man from Portugal made a trip to his doctor after more than a week of severe stomach pain. He was also experiencing vomiting and a low-grade fever.


Upon careful evaluation, the doctors discovered that the man had recently eaten sushi. Suspecting a parasite, the doctor performed an endoscopy where he viewed the man’s digestive tract through a tiny tube with a camera.

Sure enough, the parasite anisakiasis had attached itself to the lining of the man’s stomach. His symptoms disappeared immediately once the parasite and its larvae were removed.

“Most of the cases were described in Japan due to food habits; however, it has been increasingly recognized in Western countries,” the study’s authors noted.

With this increased interest in raw food, especially sushi, people should stay aware of safety habits. Experts recommend eating sushi only at high grade restaurants where workers are sure to have taken important precautions.

A Summer of Cyclospora

Normally, health experts encourage you to eat plenty of fresh produce, but in the case of cyclosporiasis, fresh produce is likely the culprit.

This intestinal illness happens when a person gets infected by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. Thankfully, you can’t spread Cyclospora from person to person, but it does spread through contaminated food or water.

The most common symptom to watch for is watery diarrhea that lasts for several weeks. It may also be the cause of cases with prolonged, intermittent diarrhea.