Anisakiasis and Anisakis: An underdiagnosed emerging disease and its main etiological agents

Res Vet Sci. 2020 Oct:132:535-545. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2020.08.003. Epub 2020 Aug 6.


Anisakiasis or anisakiosis is a human parasitic infection caused by the third-stage larvae (L3) of nematodes of the genus Anisakis, although the term is also used in medical literature for the much less frequent (<3% of cases) infection by L3 of other genera of anisakids, particularly Pseudoterranova. These parasites have a marine lifecycle. Humans are infected by the L3 through ingesting of fish and squid, the intermediate/paratenic hosts. The live larvae generally penetrate the wall of the stomach or intestine causing, among other symptoms, intense pain or allergic symptoms. These are emerging, cosmopolite illnesses. Diagnosis and treatment is usually by endoscopy and extraction and identification of the larvae. Allergic forms are usually diagnosed by prick-test and/or allergen-specific IgE detection and treated with a suitable anti-allergy treatment. The patient is also warned against further consumption of marine fish or squid, as these may be infected with Anisakis. The most common method of prevention is thermal treatment of the entire fish or squid prior to consumption (>60 °C, >1 min or - 20 °C, >24 h). Useful measures for the control of anisakiasis would be to establish a national register of cases, to initiate educational campaigns for the general public and consciousness-raising and training campaigns for health professionals. These would be complemented by control measures for the relevant sectors of the economy: fish operators, fish farming, fishermen, fishmongers, fish industry and catering facilities. Possible genetic predisposition for allergy to Anisakis and the possible relationship between anisakiasis and cancer would also require further investigation.

Keywords: Allergy; Anisakiasis; Anisakis; Control; Diagnosis; Seafood-borne disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisakiasis / diagnosis*
  • Anisakiasis / parasitology
  • Anisakis*
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging*
  • Fishes / parasitology
  • Food Parasitology
  • Humans
  • Zoonoses