A young girl in Taiwan had an 8-foot-long tapeworm removed from her body after eating contaminated sashimi.
The 8-year-old girl had eaten sashimi at a restaurant in Taipei, and later reported itchiness in her rectum, according to Daily Mail. Her family took her to a local hospital, where doctors found a tapeworm inside her body measuring 8 feet, 6 inches.
After surgeons removed the parasite, of the species Diphyllobothrium latum, and gave the girl medication, she is reported to have recovered.
The type of tapeworm she contracted is the largest tapeworm found in humans, and is sometimes called the broad or fish tapeworm. It can find its way into the body if a person eats raw fish, pork or beef that is contaminated.
Dr. He Shengyuan estimated the worm lived inside the girl for over a month before it was removed. He added that the creature was alive inside of the girl's rectum when it was taken out.
Tapeworms are flat worms that live inside of some animals' intestines after they are contracted through grazing or drinking water, according to WebMD. Meat that is not properly cooked from these animals can lead to the tapeworm living inside of a person's intestines.
Tapeworm infections have the potential to cause life-threatening effects if left untreated.
Sometimes a tapeworm infestation may cause no symptoms at all, but they can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, hunger or a loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss and abdominal pain.
Another sign of a tapeworm infection is segments of the worms, possibly still moving, inside feces.
In rare cases, tapeworms can lead to serious effects, like blocking the intestine or damage to the liver, heart, brain or eyes.
Tapeworms are generally treated with medications that kill the parasites.
To reduce the chances of getting tapeworms, avoid raw and undercooked fish and meat. Freeze meat to minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 24 hours to help kill any parasites.
WebMD also recommends washing your hands before cooking or eating. If you are traveling in an undeveloped country, eat only fruits and vegetables that have been thoroughly cooked in boiled or chemically treated water.
In January, scientists confirmed that the Japanese broad tapeworm may be present in salmon from U.S. waters, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"When you're eating uncooked fish -- or other raw foods, like unpasteurized milk -- there is some inherent risk," said Infectious Diseases Society of America spokesman Amesh Adalja.
"So, if you do develop unusual symptoms that can't be explained, you could mention to your doctor that you eat raw fish."