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News 12 Feb 13

Fish Parasites Cause Concern in Serbia

The discovery of parasitical worms in fish in the Danube is causing concern in Serbia about the safety of fish on sale in supermarkets.

Vecernje Novosti, Telegraf
Belgrade

Experts from the Agricultural Faculty in Novi Sad have found Strongylus, a dangerous parasite, or worm, in fish in the rivers Danube and Nisava. 

"The larvae are about four to seven centimetres long and they can be easily seen without a microscope," Dr Miroslav Cirkovic, from the faculty, noted.

The discovery has caused alarm among consumers, as veterinary inspectors apparently discovered the parasite some months ago but failed to warn the public about the potential health hazards.

Scientists say the parasite only attacks certain fish species, such as catfish, perch, pike and carp.

Fisherman on the Danube say the worms started to appear several years ago, but have since multiplied in numbers.

One Belgrade fisherman told the media that he had not caught a healthy fish in eight months.

"Fisherman can recognize sick fish on the first sight – they are are elongated, drawn and thin. When they are cut open, you can clearly observe that they are all rotten," he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture said inspectors were now searching the supermarkets for data on the origin of the fish on sale.

According to experts, fish with the larvae are not dangerous if they are cooked thoroughly or deep frozen.

However, they should not be eaten raw, marinated or smoked, as this leaves open the possibility of contagion.

Professor Jovan Vukadinov, from the Infectious Diseases Clinic of the Clinical Center of Vojvodina, told the newspapers that symptoms of contagion with the parasite are inflammation of the gastric system, diarrhea and vomiting.

Similar diseases have been discovered in Japan, India, Iran, Bangladesh and Canada, where people routinely consume raw fish.

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