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Health

Gigantic tapeworm may have come from sushi

Ben Schmitt
| Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, 2:45 p.m.
A sushi roll
James Knox | Trib Total Media
A sushi roll
Dr. Kenny Banh treated a man in August who ended up producing a 5-foot-6-inch tapeworm from his body. He shared the case on a Jan. 8 episode of the medical podcast “This Won’t Hurt a Bit.'
Dr. Kenny Banh/This Won't Hurt a Bit
Dr. Kenny Banh treated a man in August who ended up producing a 5-foot-6-inch tapeworm from his body. He shared the case on a Jan. 8 episode of the medical podcast “This Won’t Hurt a Bit.'

Sushi anyone?

A California man's steady diet of raw fish possibly landed him in the hospital with a tale of ultimate grossness. Doctors measured out a 5-foot-6-inch tapeworm that came out of his body after he showed up complaining of abdominal cramps and diarrhea. He also brought the worm with him ... in a bag.

According to Dr. Kenny Banh, who treated the man in August and shared the case on a Jan. 8 episode of the medical podcast "This Won't Hurt a Bit," the patient came to a Fresno ER and thought he was dying.

Banh, the emergency physician at the University of California at San Francisco, in Fresno, said he was skeptical of the patient at first until the man showed him the possible culprit in a grocery bag.

He found a cardboard toilet paper tube with a tapeworm wrapped around it.

The man discovered the worm when he felt it wiggling out as he sat on the toilet. Banh said the man initially thought his "guts were coming out," until he started to remove the worm and it started moving. "He's just pulling it and it keeps coming out. He wraps it around this toilet paper roll, washes it off and puts in a plastic bag and comes to the emergency department."

Banh unraveled the worm and it equaled his height.

"Everyone at triage is like, 'I guess I'm not that bad,'"Banh said.

After a few questions, the man revealed that he loves sushi and eats it almost daily.

"He said, 'I eat raw salmon almost every day,'" Banh said. "He loves salmon sashimi."

Doctors gave the man a de-worming pill to expel the rest of the worm from his body.

"It's no different than the de-worming medication you might give to your dog from the veterinarian," Banh said. "One dose kills all the worms. Amazingly simple."

According to a 2017 warning from the CDC, Japanese broad tapeworm larvae have been found in many Pacific-caught salmon.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Bencschmitt.

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