Imagine having a worm in your eyeball. It’s not a joke, and it could happen when you eat sushi or other vertebrates!
The condition is called Gnathostomiasis, and it’s a type of parasitic infection that is caused by larvae (worms). As the worm travels through the body, the infected person will begin to experience increasingly sharp pains, which should act as a red flag to visit the doctor as soon as possible.
Another thing that could happen, although rare, is that the parasite could travel to another region of the body like the nervous system, the liver, the spinal cord, and the eye, which can result in vision loss or blindness. If the worm goes to the brain, it can cause nerve pain, paralysis, coma, and also death.
The first case of Gnathostoma was recognized by Sir Richard Owen when he inspected the stomach of a young tiger that died at London Zoo from a ruptured aorta. But only in 1889 that the first human case was reported by Levison when he discovered the gnathostome larva in an infested Thai woman. This delay in seeing the parasite in humans is because humans are not a definitive host for this parasite, which makes infection from this parasite rare.
Tthe parasite must be ingested when it has reached its third larvae stage, giving only a short time frame in which the parasite can infect humans. It is uncommon for the larvae to penetrate the skin of individuals exposed to contaminated food or water without ingestion.
The condition most notably occurs in Southeast Asia. However, it has been recorded in other parts of the world too. This infection can result from consuming any of the following:
- undercooked or raw freshwater fish
7 Signs And Symptoms
If you get infected, you will start having migratory swellings under your skin, and you could also experience some of these other signs:
- abdominal or right upper quadrant pain
Note: Symptoms should appear 24 hours after consumption.
In this video, Dr. Greger provides you with more information about gnathostomiasis and shares real-life cases.