Fishborne Parasites

The rising popularity of raw fish has increased the risk of a variety of new diseases, especially those caused by the larval stages of helminth parasites offish. The majority of these seafood diseases occur in regions where seafood constitutes a major portion of the protein diet. The status of seafood zoonoses has recently been reviewed (33). The number of annual causes of anisakiasis (caused by Ani-sakis spp. and Pseudoterranova spp.) in Japan exceeded 3,100 in 1984. In the United States, although only about 50 cases have been reported since 1958, the annual number of new cases is increasing.

The most important freshwater fishborne parasites in the United States is the broad fish tapeworm Diphyllo-bothrium latum. Humans become infected by ingesting raw or inadequately cooked freshwater or andromous fish. Most commonly implicated are pike and walleys from the Great Lakes, where up to 50-70% may harbor the infective larval stage.

Currently, the control of these fishborne parasites relies on recommendations to the consumer for the preparation of safe fish meals and, in the case of marine fish, on some inspection by mechanical means. However, the pressure on government to develop mandatory, comprehensive inspection technologies for the inspection of marine and freshwater fish is increasing. Currently, accurate, rapid inspection methods do not exist. It can be expected, however, that if the need is sufficient, such inspection technology will be developed. Biotechnological tools may play an important role in this endeavor also.

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