Surgeons in Taiwan recently pulled a giant tapeworm from an eight-year-old girl. Measuring 8 feet 6 inches, the girl contracted the tapeworm after eating sashimi, a popular Japanese dish. A member of the girl’s family said she began experiencing itchiness in her rectum after eating the food at a restaurant in Taipei.
When she went to the hospital, her family told doctors that she loved eating sushi, especially sashimi. Doctors suspected her illness could be caused my contaminated raw fish. They soon identified the tapeworm and performed surgery to remove it from her rectum.
Wang Zhijian, A pediatrician at the hospital, explained that the girl had contracted a type of tapeworm known as diphyllobothrium latum, the largest human tapeworm. Diphyllobothrium latum is also known as fish tapeworm or broad tapeworm. It can be contracted by consuming raw, contaminated pork, beef or fish.
He Shengyan, a doctor at the hospital, said the tapeworm was alive and moving when surgeons removed it. He estimates that the tapeworm was alive inside of the young girl for more than a month.
How Can You Contract Tapeworms From Eating Raw Fish?
Humans can contract tapeworms by eating raw fish that has been infected with tapeworms during its larvae stage. When fish consume tapeworm eggs, the larvae attach themselves to the intestinal walls of the fish. The worms then infect the fish, and can transfer into the flesh of a human who eats the uncooked fish.
A tapeworm can grow inside a human’s intestine and survive for years undetected. The tapeworm releases its own eggs that can infect other parts of the body, causing symptoms such as fatigue, constipation and abdominal discomfort. If larvae find their way to other parts of the body, they can eat away at the eyes, heart, brain or liver, causing life-threatening conditions.