A 34-year-old man who ate raw chicken sushi became infected with a parasite which could have sent him blind.
The Japanese man, who was otherwise healthy, developed growths in his lungs and liver because of the parasite.
He contracted the infection from eating chicken sashimi – a type of sushi in which the meat is only seared round the edges, not cooked – a report revealed.
After going to hospital complaining of having stomach pains for 10 days, doctors carried out tests on the man in order to diagnose him with toxocariasis.
The rare infection, caused by roundworm parasites and which has the potential to cause blindness, was treated with drugs and the man made a full recovery.
Chicken sashimi is a sushi dish in which slices of chicken are only seared around the edges and not cooked through but it carries a risk of transmitting parasites, as in the case of this unnamed Japanese man
The unnamed man visited doctors at the Saiseikai Fukuoka General Hospital, approximately 93 miles north-east of Nagasaki on Japan’s southern Kyushu island.
He had been suffering from pain in his abdomen and said he had eaten seared chicken sashimi ‘several times’, according to BMJ Case Reports.
Scans revealed clumps of cells called nodules in the man’s chest and his liver, while blood tests showed a high level of white blood cells, suggesting an infection.
Doctors diagnosed a rare roundworm infection
Doctors managed to diagnose the man with toxocariasis, a rare roundworm infection which humans can catch from infected animal faeces or meat.
The parasites can cause fever, abdominal pain, anorexia, and even blindness if they infect the eyes.
Fortunately the man’s infection was easily treated.
The man recovered after treatment with drugs
The report authors wrote: ‘After treatment with albendazole, his symptoms improved and the [lung] and liver lesions disappeared.’
Sashimi is a popular Japanese delicacy which consists of fresh meat which is served uncooked – fish is most common but other meats are also used.
Although fish can be eaten raw and rare beef steak is popular, raw chicken is usually considered to be dangerous because it is likely to contain salmonella, a bacteria which causes unpleasant and potentially life-threatening food poisoning.
As well as salmonella raw meat has the potential to contain various parasites, including the roundworm which causes toxocariasis.
HOW CAN TOXOCARIASIS INFECT PEOPLE?
Toxocariasis infection is rare in people but can cause fever, fatigue, weight loss, breathing difficulties, seizures or vision problems and even blindness.
Humans can become infected if the parasite’s eggs get inside the body after contact with soil, sand or animal meat or faeces which contain them.
The eggs then move into the bowel before hatching and releasing larvae which can travel around the body, but they cannot develop into fully grown parasites or spread between people.
To prevent the infection the NHS recommends washing hands with soap and warm water after handling pets or coming into contact with sand or soil.
Pet cats and dogs should also be regularly de-wormed and their faeces should be disposed of immediately.
Source: NHS Choices