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November 1, 2011

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Assurances that eels are free of parasite

EELS sold in city markets are free from a parasite discovered in a neighboring province that can damage the nervous system and lead to paralysis, officials said yesterday.

But experts advised locals to cook aquatic produce thoroughly to ensure any parasites are killed.

Researchers last week found 250 gnathostoma spinigerum worms in 5 kilograms of eels at an aquatic market in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, reported Modern Express.

In May, Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau officials found the same parasite in eels imported from Indonesia and the Philippines.

That was the first time the creature had been found in China.

Eels in Shanghai markets are not infected because imports were stopped after the Hangzhou discovery, said a supervising official at Tongchuan Road Seafood Market, one of the major aquatic markets in the city.

Fan Shoulin, secretary-general of the Shanghai Fishery Trade Association, said that he had inspected local aquatic markets with government officials and hadn't found parasites in the eels.

But he advised locals not to eat eels or fish such as loaches raw, and instead cook them at high temperatures.

Gnathostoma spinigerum affects livestock and humans. It is spread through food, contact with infected animals and can be passed from mothers to new-born babies.

The parasite can damage the brain, spinal cord and nervous system of the host.


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