Health officials warn against eating raw crawfish from Missouri Rivers

May 4, 2010

Six confirmed cases of rare human paragonimiasis (lung fluke) infections have turned up in the state, most recently in April.The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) said all six cases occurred in patients who ate raw crawfish from rivers in Missouri.

The lung fluke is a food-borne parasitic infection caused by a trematode ingested by eating raw or undercooked freshwater crabs or crayfishes. Those who are infected have several pulmonary symptoms, including fever, cough and spitting up blood- symptoms that mimic tuberculosis.

The parasite eventually breaks through the digestive tract and can infest the body cavity, including the lungs brain and nervous system.

Health officials advise that crabs and crayfish should be cooked thoroughly prior to eating to avoid the risk of infection. The DHSS distributed posters to campgrounds and canoe rental businesses to warn the public about the danger of eating raw crayfish.

The DHSS urges persons who develop symptoms after ingesting raw crabs or crayfish seek medical care. All six patients in Missouri were hospitalized and were given a medicine to treat parasitic infections and have shown improvement.

Medical providers who have known or suspected cases are asked to report it to their local public health agency or to DHSS by calling 866-628-9891; by email to Dr. Philip Lo at; or by fax at 573-526-0235.

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