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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington: Researchers Take Part in Study That Finds ‘Sushi Parasites’ Have Increased 283-fold in Past 40 Years

A new study led by the University of Washington, and co-authored by researchers in the University of Washington School of Public Health, finds dramatic increases in the abundance of a worm that can be transmitted to humans who eat raw or undercooked seafood. Its 283-fold increase in abundance since the 1970s could have implications for the health of humans and marine mammals, which both can inadvertently eat the worm.

Thousands of papers have looked at the abundance of this parasitic worm, known as Anisakis or “herring worm,” in particular places and at particular times. But this is the first study to combine the results of those papers to investigate how the global abundance of these worms has changed through time. The findings were published March 19 in the journal Global Change Biology.

“It’s interesting because it shows how risks to both humans and marine mammals are changing over time,” said corresponding author Dr. Chelsea Wood, an assistant professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “That’s important to know from a public health standpoint, and for understanding what’s going on with marine mammal populations that aren’t thriving.”

Co-authors include Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou, an affiliate professor, and Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, a professor, both in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences at the UW School of Public Health.

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