Hoping to avoid the experience again, the patient was keen to learn how he contracted the tapeworm. It took only a brief medical history to point Dr Banh to the likely culprit. The patient reportedly ate his favorite meal of salmon sashimi almost every day, and (sorry to upset sushi lovers) scientists have shown time and time again that uncooked fish is swimming with parasites, including a nauseating array of flatworm and roundworm species, plus a few protozoans.
Happily for the patient (and any readers who are now concerned), treating a tapeworm infection is simple. Typically, a single anti-parasite pill – the same that people give their cats and dogs – is all it takes to kill most tapeworms. These drugs are administered even if a large worm is removed, as in this case, because these organisms have segmented bodies that easily break apart and then regrow. Plus, each segment that comes off has the potential to create thousands of eggs and can crawl independently until they’re released.
On his way out of the ER, requested medicine in hand, the patient vowed to Dr Banh that he would never eat raw seafood again.