One of my brothers once told me that, if you wanted to kill a tapeworm that was inside of you, you had to wave a piece of meat in front of your mouth. He said the tapeworm would work its way toward the scent and its head would pop out of your mouth. When the head emerged, you had to grab it, pull it out a little, and then chop off its head with the knife you had standing by. It had to be a big, sharp knife, he said.
To be honest, I never really believed that this was the most efficient way to kill a tapeworm. I wasn’t even sure that it was a real way to kill it. Fortunately, up to now, I’ve never had to worry about killing a tapeworm that lived in my digestive tract.
Today, a friend of mine upended my complacency. She posted an article from a reputable source, NBC CT, that said that a salmon that was caught off the North Alaska coast had a tapeworm in it. The article said that, “The tapeworm, known as Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, has caused thousands of infections in the Asia Pacific since 2008, according to the Washington Post” and that a study found “an increased popularity of eating raw fish and ‘global importation’ has caused the reemergence of the tapeworm.” The article went on to say that “researchers determined people who eat raw salmon caught in North America may be at risk of contracting the tapeworm infections.”
Well, hell. I recently developed a love of sushi, after years of saying that, “I ain’t eatin’ no raw fish.” My fear was of catching parasites. My sushi-loving friends, and some hipsters I know, all said that my fear was unfounded, and that sushi and sashimi were safe to eat.
It turns out that they were wrong. I’d better sharpen my cleaver.