Don’t stop eating sushi despite parasite warning, doctor says

Slow your roll — the odds of getting a parasite from eating sushi is unlikely, doctors assure.

Raw fish lovers were hit with a wave of worry recently when a report revealed that anisakiasis, an illness caused by eating parasite-spoiled seafood, is on the rise in Western countries. But New York gastroenterologists say there’s no need to put down the chopsticks.

“It’s a lot of hype,” Dr. Prem Chattoo, a Financial District-based gastroenterologist, tells the Daily News.

And a raw deal. The actual infection occurs when a worm-like parasite larva invades the stomach wall or intestines and latches on, causing symptoms of stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In worst cases, some could develop digestive bleeding and a fever.

“The chances of it happening here in the tristate area are slim to none unless you’re getting fish or sushi that wasn’t certified in the U.S.” Chattoo, who is also a restaurant owner of The Warren in the West Village, explains.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene requires that fish served raw, undercooked or marinated raw meals like ceviche must be frozen first to kill off parasites.

And at any reputable restaurant, fish is flash frozen solid at a temperature of -31°F or below and stored in a freezer for at least 15 hours to prevent parasites.


“From a doctor’s standpoint, nothing can live at that temperature,” says Chattoo.

If by chance someone does encounter a parasite while eating raw fish, some can experience a tingling sensation after or while eating the undercooked fish or squid.

“This is actually the worm moving in the mouth or throat,” the CDC’s website reads.

If a patient does contract suspicious symptoms, doctors will perform an endoscopy — a non-surgical examination of the digestive tract using a tube with a light and camera at the end — to determine if there is a parasite.

“It’s easy to treat with an antiparasitic to kill the parasite,” says Chattoo.

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