Anisakiasis(Herring Worm Disease)

Anisakiasis(HerringWorm Disease)

Anisakiasis (Herring Worm Disease)

According to Food and Drug Administration (2012), Anisakiasis is a disease caused by the larvae of some worms when someone consumes raw or undercooked fish or marine mollusks such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish.

Characteristics of Anisakiasis

A vast of the infections involves the invasion of the gastric and bowel organs. This may result to tissue damages because of the obstruction of the gut walls, enlargement of the eosinophilia granuloma, as well as perforations (Nieuwenhuizen&amp Lopata, 2013).


Anisakiasis parasite usually resides in the flesh of herrings, salmon, monkfish, sea mammals consisting of whales, seals, sea lions among others where they are attached to the mucous membrane.

Figure 1: Source:

Its eggs are passed through excretion of fecal matter where they hatch into larvae and are consumed by squids and crustaceans, a primary food source for fish (Mattiucci, 2011).

When these worms are eaten alive in raw or when they are undercooked, they are said to infect the stomach and the intestine (FDA, 2012)

Foods Linked To the Disease

Seafood is the primary source of human infections with the parasitic worms. These foods include sushi, smoked herring, octopus, sashimi, squids, etc.

Figure 2: Sashimi. Source:


Anisakiasis is characterized by an immediate onset of nausea, abdominal pains, and sometimes vomiting, and diarrhea may occur, on occasions, with signs of peritoneal irritations and painful obstruction of the ileus of the small intestines (Mattiucci, 2011).

Figure 3: Source:

Its symptoms usually manifest themselves within few hours about three weeks after consumption of raw or half-cooked fish.

Preventive Measures

Figure 4: Source:

Invasive anisakiasis can be very dangerous to human life. This happens when the worms attach themselves to the walls of stomach or intestine. It is, therefore, advisable to prevent it rather than treating it. The primary measure of prevention as suggested by Lubna and Duerksen (2013) is to inactivate the worms by proper cooking of fish. A cooking temperature of 1480F to 1550F is recommended.


Food and Drug Administration, (2012). Bad Bug Book: Foodborne pathogenic microorganisms and natural toxins. 2nd ed. Retrieved September 6, 2016, from

Lubna Madi, M.D…&amp Duerksen, D.R., (2013). Management of Anisakiasis. Can J Gastroenterol, 27(3).

Mattiucci, S., Paoletti, M., Borrini, F., Palumbo, M., Palmieri, R. M., Gomes, V., … &amp Nascetti, G. (2011). First molecular identification of the zoonotic parasite Anisakis pegreffii (Nematoda: Anisakidae) in a paraffin-embedded granuloma taken from a case of human intestinal anisakiasis in Italy. BMC infectious diseases, 11(1), 1.

Nieuwenhuizen, N. E., &amp Lopata, A. L. (2013). Anisakis–a food-borne parasite that triggers allergic host defenses. International journal for parasitology, 43(12), 1047-1057.