Infestation of Tongue-Consuming Parasites Found in Fish Cargo

Parasites that eat fish tongues and take their place within the mouth have been present in a batch of seabream arriving at a port within the U.Ok.

The parasites, Cymothoa exigua, had been first noticed within the packaging of the imported fish, which was picked up by the Suffolk Coastal Port Well being Authority (SCPHA) once they inspected the cargo after the importer failed to finish the proper paperwork.

Upon additional investigation, the parasites had been discovered contained in the mouths of the fish, rather than their tongues. The cargo, which had arrived on the Port of Felixstowe, was despatched again to its nation of origin, which the SCPHA didn’t identify in its assertion.

The contaminated seabream with their tongues changed by the parasitic tongue-eating louse, Cymothoa exigua.
Suffolk Coastal Port Well being Authority

Also called the tongue-eating louse, Cymothoa exigua, in addition to different associated parasite species, infect a variety of fish species worldwide, together with each commercially fished species and species of no industrial worth.

They enter a bunch fish through the gills, whereupon the feminine attaches to the tongue, whereas the male attaches to the gill arches beneath and behind the feminine. The feminine then severs the blood vessels within the fish’s tongue and eats the blood provide herself, which finally results in the fish’s tongue falling off. She then sits within the place the place the tongue as soon as was, parasitizing the fish.

“Often, solely a small proportion of the fish inhabitants is contaminated,” parasite ecologist and knowledgeable Robert Poulin advised Newsweek. “The parasite spreads when feminine parasites launch juveniles into the water; most of those will die with out ever attaching to a fish host, whereas a couple of of them will efficiently contact a fish and settle in its gill cavity or mouth, the place they spend the remainder of their life.”

This does not damage the fish a lot, surprisingly, as there’s little indication of lowered feeding or respiratory potential in contaminated hosts. The truth is, it seems as if the fish continues to make use of the parasite mechanically rather than its tongue.

Danut Cazacu, a veterinary surgeon with the SCPHA, mentioned within the assertion: “Circumstances akin to these are clear reminders of why we work exhausting to research imports and guarantee they’re protected for human consumption. After checking extra cartons, it was obvious that many of the sea bream had been infested, so we denied the consignment’s entry into the UK. From there the importer can select to have it destroyed or despatched again to them, and on this case they selected the latter.”

Poulin disagreed with the SCPHA’s feedback concerning the security of the contaminated seabream batch.

“[The parasite’s] presence definitely makes the fish unappealing and most customers would refuse to purchase and eat the fish. Nevertheless, the remark within the article about ‘guaranteeing the fish are protected for human consumption’ could be very deceptive: the parasite just isn’t transmissible to people and consuming it might trigger no extra hurt than consuming a crab or lobster. They’re disgusting, in fact, however no risk to human well being.”

Brenda McRory, the technical chief of the SCPHA, advised the BBC that whereas the parasites aren’t dangerous to human well being, the import was “not of the requirements we’d anticipate in [the U.K.]”.

Inventory picture: Cymothoa exigua, or the tongue-eating louse.
iStock / Getty Photographs Plus