Woman hallucinates for months after eating five-day-old gas station sushi

sushi refrigerator
Photo: Jeff Greenberg (Getty Images)

A woman identified only as “JC,” famished one night after work, came home and found hardly anything to eat in the refrigerator. She took a gamble and ate the five-day-old gas station sushi that had been ripening in her fridge, and boy, did things go south after that.

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The Daily Mirror recounts the harrowing tale, first shared on YouTube by verified user and allegedly licensed health provider Chubbyemu, whose videos contain crude reenactments of “variations on cases I, or my colleagues, have seen in the past.” So you can take this story with a grain of salt, but know that sushi-related tapeworms are actually a thing, according on this NPR story from 2018.

Anyway, back to JC: aside from tasting a little sour, the sushi went down quickly with a dose of soy sauce. Then the symptoms began. Everything started with insomnia, and the woman’s sleep issues escalated into anxiety and confusion plus an elevated heart rate that felt as if it were “beating out of her neck.” Next came the stomach cramps. She’d feel her stomach jiggle before she went to the bathroom. As time went by, JC started suffering from malnutrition, incontinence, hallucinations of bugs crawling up the walls and underneath her skin, and bouts of anxiety.

If all of this sounds like the beginning of a horror movie, well, it sort of is, because things got worse. Seizures followed. Then there was a barrage of testing, until finally, doctors found evidence of tapeworm eggs in her stool along with broken segments from a tapeworm. They identified it as diphyllobothrium latum, one of the largest, which can grow up to...9 meters long.

Apparently these tapeworms really like vitamin B12, taking it away from the host, JC, basically starving her of essential nutrients which are key for cellular and nervous function. After so much agonizing, JC was given a dose of praziquantel, an anti-worm medication, and she made a full recovery. As if there were any more reasons to avoid gas station sushi, huh. Well, I’ll still eat it.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

Pretty sure that would have happened no matter how old the sushi was. The tapework larvae would have been there when the fish was sliced.

If you’re gonna roll the dice and eat fish of dubious origin/preparation, that is absolutely something to mention as a habit to your doctor. They might not start there if your first symptom is insomnia, but if that’s a habit and you have any kind of stomach problems, it will point them to the correct tests.