You love your sushi, but you may find that spicy salmon roll a little less drool-worthy after this cringe-inducing story. Let’s hope you’re not eating dinner right now.
A man from Fresno, California recently went to the emergency room asking for “worm treatment,” reported ABC30 Action News. Apparently, he had some digestive woes, like bloody diarrhea. Then he also said—wait for it—he felt like something was “dangling from his rectum,” the emergency doctor at the Community Regional Medical Center, Kenny Banh, M.D., recalls. “And he thinks it’s very odd. He doesn’t get it until he pulls it out, and then it wiggles and he drops it and is like oh. It’s a worm."
If that wasn’t bad enough the tapeworm was five and a half FEET long. Let that sink in for a moment.
Apparently, the man told the doctor that he eats salmon sashimi daily from various local sushi spots. Because of the size of the tapeworm, Banh noted that it probably had been growing for at least six months.
The news story shows images of the tapeworm laid out on a couple paper towels—and it’s just as gross as you’d expect. (Look at your own risk!)
The sushi-parasite connection is real, folks. You can get worms, or parasites, from eating raw or undercooked fish or squid, according to the Centres for Disease Control. If you eat infected fish, you also get a dose of larvae, which then take over your digestive tract. The CDC points out that in one specific type of disease called Anisakiasis, people may feel tingling when eating the sushi, which is an indication that a worm is moving around in your mouth or throat. (Ew, we know.)
Luckily, getting a parasite from sushi is very rare, says Todd Nega, MD, infectious disease physician at NorthShore University HealthSystem near Chicago. "Most sushi, even when labeled as fresh, is flash frozen, which usually kills the worms," he adds. (Your greatest risk is if you, say, go on an Alaskan vacation and eat raw salmon straight from the water. But, that's probably not something you're doing on the regular anyway.)
A study in BMJ Case Reports in 2017 points out that cases of Anisakiasis is on the rise in Western countries as more people are eating sushi. The research chronicled the case of a 32-year-old man who had severe stomach pain, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. He said that he recently ate sushi. Tests found he had a parasite. Typically, Anisakiasis is treated by removing the worm.
"Cooked fish is always better than raw," says Nega, "but if it's raw you can ask the sushi spot if the fish was flash frozen." Still, he says, even when fish isn't flash frozen, the odds of something like this happening to you is still very, very low.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.