Spanish authorities have issued a warning about a parasite in anchovies after three people fell ill.

The Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) reported a brand of anchovies in vinegar from Spain could contain anisakis. Three people have been affected with mild symptoms in the country.

The product involved is “Boquerones en Vinagre” of the brand “Pescados Medina” in 250-gram plastic containers with lot code 270420 and the date July 27, 2020. Authorities recommended that people who have the implicated product at home refrain from consuming it and return it to the place of purchase.

AESAN was informed, through the Coordinated System for the Rapid Exchange of Information (SCIRI), of an alert sent by the health authorities in Andalusia of food poisoning linked to presence of anisakis in anchovies in vinegar from Spain.

The agency has transferred the notification to all regions through SCIRI to ensure the product is withdrawn from sale.

The affected product was made in Andalusia and distributed in that region as well as to Aragon, Catalonia, the Canary Islands, Castilla y León and Madrid.

Growing problem
A 2018 study of anisakiasis by Serrano-Moliner in the Pathogens and Global Health journal found 236 cases were reported in the European Union between 2000 and 2017 with the highest incidence in Spain, followed by Italy.

Another recent study led by the University of Washington found an increase in anisakis. The research combined results of previous papers to investigate how the abundance of these worms has changed over time. The worms can be up to 2 centimeters in length, or about as long as a U.S. 5-cent nickel is wide

The researchers weren’t sure what caused the increase of anisakis worms in past decades, but climate change, more nutrients from fertilizers and runoff, and an increase in marine mammal populations over the same period could all be potential factors.

Anisakiasis, or herring worm disease, is a parasitic disease caused by worms, also known as nematodes. The best way to prevent it is to avoid eating raw or undercooked fish or squid, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anisakiasis is most common in areas where eating raw fish is popular, such as Japan. However, there have been cases in the United States, Europe, South America, and other regions.

Signs and symptoms are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, diarrhea, blood and mucus in stool, and mild fever. Allergic reactions with rash and itching, and life-threatening anaphylaxis, can also occur.

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