Australian couple are slowly being eaten alive by worms

ff14dda6-95b9-441d-928e-4b76430ee938

Editor's Picks
Features Post
The brightest pupils
04 October 2021
Features Post
Dealing with egg ‘fungus’
04 October 2021
Features Post
Rathbun’s tetra in the wild
13 September 2021
Fishkeeping News Post
Report: 2021 BKKS National Koi Show results
13 September 2021
Features Post
The World's forgotten fishes
16 August 2021


It's often said that a diet rich in fresh fish is good for your health, but one Australian couple will be wishing they'd gone for the vegetarian option this time.

While enjoying a camping holiday on the Calder River in the Kimberley, Western Australia they had decided to make a meal of a Black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) they'd caught earlier.

Unfortunately they were unaware that the bream was itself already dinner for tiny flesh-eating worms, which due to the vagaries of campfire cooking were only too happy to switch host.

They returned home to Melbourne where 10 days later they fell ill with symptoms including muscle pain, fevers and vomiting.

Most sinister though was a strange 'crawling' feeling under their skin.

Two doctors were unable to determine the cause of their problem so they were passed on to an infectious disease specialist who diagnosed a Gnathostomiasis worm infestation.

These tiny (1-3mm) flesh-eating freeloaders chew their way around their host's body at will, even ending up in the spinal cord or brain, and can remain there for up to 15 years until they die or are killed by the body's immune system.

Untreated victims can become chronically ill, however once diagnosed they are easily dealt with through a combination of medicines.

This is the first recorded case of a human infestation from Australia with all previous cases in the country being from people who had travelled abroad.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.