A proclaimed salmon sashimi fan in Fresno had a 5 ½ foot-long tapeworm pulled from his body after complaining of diarrhea.
The incident was related by Dr. Kenny Banh in the January 8 episode of “This Won’t Hurt A Bit,” a podcast that discusses unusual health cases with medical experts, NPR reports.
According to Banh, he was working in the emergency room at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, California when a young adult male entered, saying he had blood in his stool. But unlike other patients who usually come in with complaints of stomach pains, this unidentified man asked to be treated for worms.
Banh thought the request was odd, but the patient handed him a plastic grocery bag. To the doctor’s astonishment, the bag contained a tapeworm. He said,
I take out a toilet paper roll, and wrapped around it, of course, is what looks like this giant, long tapeworm.
The man said that he was on the toilet when the worm began crawling out of him, and he thought he was dying. Banh said that the man thought, “’Oh, my goodness, my guts are coming out of me!’”
As the man began pulling on the worm that was sliding out, he was relieved to see that it was not his innards coming out, but a tapeworm.
When the tapeworm was unrolled on the floor of the emergency room, Banh said that the parasite measured five feet, 6 inches long. Officially called a helminth, this is not even the longest a tapeworm can grow — Dr. Jessica Mason who was on the podcast said that they can go to as long as 40 feet.
Banh and the patient were baffled at first as to how he had gotten a tapeworm, before the man confessed that he loved salmon sashimi. “I eat raw salmon almost every day,” he said.
The infection is rare in humans, with only 2,000 documented cases of tapeworms from wild salmon, and most were in northeastern Asia, according to Roman Kuchta, lead researcher on a 2017 study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A dose of de-worming medication, the same type given to dogs, is fortunately enough to kill all worms that may be residing in a human body.