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‘Moving black worm’ removed from tonsil of woman with sore throat

A molting nematode roundworm is shown in this handout photo.
A molting nematode roundworm is shown in this handout photo. Sho Fukui, Takahiro Matsuo and Nobuyoshi Mori/AJTMH

Is that tickle in your throat the first sign of COVID-19 — or something even creepier?

Doctors in Japan say they successfully removed a long, thin, “moving black worm” from a woman’s tonsil, in a spine-tingling case linked to a piece of bad sashimi.

The woman, 25, complained of a sore throat a few days after she ate some assorted sashimi, according to a case study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Doctors checked her out and found that the cause was not a cold but a case of “tingling throat syndrome” — a soft way of saying she had a parasite in her left tonsil.

Read more: Are parasitic worms lurking in your seafood? Here’s what Canadian experts say

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Doctors used tweezers to extract the long, black worm from the woman’s throat at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, according to the case study.

The worm measured about 38 mm (1.5 inches) long, 1 mm wide and was still very much alive when it was removed.

“Symptoms rapidly improved after removing the worm using tweezers,” the doctors wrote.

The creature was a nematode roundworm, a parasite occasionally found in undercooked fish or meat. The parasite was likely a third-stage larva when consumed, but it had grown into its fourth stage of life by the time it was removed from the woman, doctors wrote.

Read more: Man who vomited from headaches actually had tapeworm in his brain

The case study authors point out that such incidents are rare but becoming more widespread, particularly when considering the current popularity of sushi and sashimi.

The woman told doctors that she ate sashimi five days prior to the surgery. She did not say when — or if — she will ever eat it again.

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