A recent survey among Malaysians has shown that Japanese Cuisine is the most popular cuisine in the country.
Therefore, we are seeing a drastic rise in the number of people who are eating raw, uncooked fish.
Anisakiasis, or "Herring worm disease", is a disease caused by eating raw, uncooked food. Nematodes, or round worms, can infect human beings by attaching to the digestive tracks of their victims. Basically it means worms from fish grown in your stomach lah.
Traditionally, the incidence of anisakiasis is much higher in Japan compared to the rest of the world, but due to the boom in Japanaese cuisine worldwide, reports of anisakiasis are mushrooming.
So how does Anisakiasis spread?
1. Whales, seals and other marine mammals will poop into the ocean (duh). The stools of these infected mammals contain larvae (or baby worms), and these larvae will in turn be eaten by fish.
2. When we eat cooked fish who are already infected with these worms, the worms die, and nothing bad happens to us.
But if we eat infected fish RAW, that's when problems happen lah.
3. The living worms will latch on to our intestinal tract, and then cause all the symptoms such as stomach bloatiness, indigestion, vomitting, and even bloody stools. This depends on the severity of the disease.
Some people experience even more "geli" symptoms, such as a tingling sensation on your tongue. This sensation is actually caused by the wriggling and movement of the worms in your palette and on your tongue. Other even COUGH OUT WORMS (yucks) as the worms tickle the back of their throats.
The good news is, this type of infection starts, and dies in our gut. Meaning there won't be crazy brain eating worms drilling its way to suck our brains dry.
Some of you may be wondering...if somebody living with me has anisakiasis, will I be at risk of getting the disease from that person? Well, Anisakiasis is not transmissible from human to human, but if you ate the same infected raw fish like he does, then YES.... you can be infected too.
So what will happen to you if you DO get infected?
If it's mild, we can actually just treat you with Albendazole. But we'll have to use 400mg each dose, twice a day, for 6-21 days.
But for severe cases, where there are just too many worms, surgery is needed to remove all these worms from our gut.
Can we use Albendazole for "prevention" tho?
This has been on my mind for quite some time now, as I am an avid sashimi lover myself. Unfortunately, there aren't any evidence for albendazole/mebendazole "Prophylaxis", or prevention dose for anisakiasis. Meaning we can't use any "magic medicine" to shield ourselves from these worms.
So for now, cook your fish if you want to stay safe!