Lovers of raw fish, be warned: The grossest medical malady of 2018 involved a toilet, a tapeworm, and a whole lot of salmon sushi. This story unfolded in January, when the medical podcast This Won’t Hurt a Bit featured a University of California San Francisco doctor with a stomach-churning story to tell. It all started when a patient came into the hospital with a empty toilet paper roll.
Upon closer inspection, the professor of clinical emergency medicine, Dr. Kenny Banh, realized that there was a five-foot-long tapeworm wrapped around the cardboard cylinder. The patient had pulled it out of his rectum. WARNING: There’s an extremely vile photo below.
This is #6 on Inverse’s list of the 25 Most WTF stories of 2018.
The tapeworm was brought in on a roll of toilet paper.
As Inverse reported previously, the man was using the bathroom when he noticed the tapeworm wiggling out. He methodically wrapped all five feet of the creature around an empty toilet paper roll and brought it to the hospital, where Banh identified it as a tapeworm. Pressed for details about what might have caused the infection, the patient could think of only one thing.
The one thing I like, that I love, I love sushi, specifically salmon sashimi, and I eat it every day.
“He says, ‘The one thing I like, that I love, I love sushi, specifically salmon sashimi, and I eat it every day,” Banh recounted.
Banh thinks the man might have caught the infection from an infected, uncooked fish, after which the tapeworm gestated for at least six months, growing to that size.
Raw salmon is delicious, but make sure it’s been frozen for an appropriate amount of time before eating it.
Five feet is far from the maximum length a tapeworm can reach. The CDC reports that Japanese broad tapeworms (Diphyllobothrium nihokaiense), which have been shown to infect North American salmon, are the largest tapeworms that can infect people and can grow up to 30 feet long.
Infection can be pretty rough: They include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and the possibility that you might pull an enormous tapeworm out of your rectum.