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5-foot tapeworm 'wiggles' out of sushi lover before California ER visit

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Last year the CDC put out an alert warning about parasites found in Alaskan caught salmon.

WARNING: This story contains graphic content that some may find disturbing.

Last August at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, California, a young man walked into the emergency room with an unusual demand.

"He asked me for worm treatment, and I was like oh, not an everyday request," UCSF Fresno Emergency Medicine physician Dr. Kenny Banh said.

Dr. Banh is usually skeptical of patients who self-diagnose, but in this case, the man was adamant about his symptoms.

It began with a trip to the bathroom, some bloody diarrhea, and the realization that something was dangling from his rectum.

"And he thinks it's very odd," Dr. Banh said. "He doesn't get it until he pulls it out, and then it wiggles, and he drops it and is like oh, it's a worm."

It was a tapeworm, measuring five and a half feet long.

The man brought the parasite with him to the hospital, wrapped around an empty toilet paper roll, along with a hypothesis.

"He says, 'The one thing I like, that I love, I love sushi, specifically salmon sashimi, and I eat it every day,'" Dr. Banh said.

Dr Banh said raw fish is a reasonable cause for an infestation, and the tapeworm had likely been growing in the man's intestines for at least six months.

Last year, the CDC put out an alert warning about parasites found in Alaskan-caught salmon.

"What does everyone want to know?" Dr. Banh said. "When did I get, where did I get it from, he wants me to go all WebMD on him."

Questions also arose if the tapeworm helped the man lose any weight.

"Everybody asks me that," Dr. Banh said. "And the answer is absolutely not. He's like, all the negatives of the worm infestation and none of the positives."

Dr. Banh says ingesting worms is not the way to lose weight.

In this case, the man visited too many local sushi restaurants to pinpoint where he may have gotten the infestation. He did tell physicians as he left that he would never eat sashimi again.


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