Assessing the risk of an emerging zoonosis of worldwide concern: anisakiasis

Miguel Bao Dominguez, Graham J Pierce, Santiago Pascual, Miguel González-Muñoz, Simonetta Mattiucci, Ivona Mladineo, Paolo Cipriani, Ivana Bušelić, Norval J. C. Strachan

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Anisakiasis is an emerging zoonosis caused by the fish parasitic nematode Anisakis. Spain appears to have the highest reported incidence in Europe and marinated anchovies are recognised as the main food vehicle. Using data on fishery landings, fish infection rates and consumption habits of the Spanish population from questionnaires, we developed a quantitative risk assessment (QRA) model for the anchovy value chain. Spaniards were estimated to consume on average 0.66 Anisakis per untreated (non-frozen) raw or marinated anchovy meal. A dose-response relationship was generated and the probability of anisakiasis was calculated to be 9.56 × 10−5 per meal, and the number of annual anisakiasis cases requiring medical attention was predicted between 7,700 and 8,320. Monte Carlo simulations estimated post-mortem migration of Anisakis from viscera to flesh increases the disease burden by >1000% whilst an education campaign to freeze anchovy before consumption may reduce cases by 80%. However, most of the questionnaire respondents who ate untreated meals knew how to prevent Anisakis infection. The QRA suggests that previously reported figures of 500 anisakiasis per year in Europe is a considerable underestimate. The QRA tool can be used by policy makers and informs industry, health professionals and consumers about this underdiagnosed zoonosis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number43699
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

The authors sincerely thank the Biobanking platform at the PARASITE project (EU FP7 PARASITE project (GA no. 312068)) for providing host-parasite data. We thank Rosa Fernández and Cristina Martínez from CETMAR for their help during creation and divulgation of the questionnaires. We also thank Arturo del Rey Moreno (“Antequera” hospital) for his helpful comments. We are also grateful to “Subdirección General de Economía Pesquera” of “Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente” (MAGRAMA) of the Spanish government for providing anchovy trade statistics for 2013. M. Bao is supported by a PhD grant from the University of Aberdeen and also by financial support of the contract from the EU Project PARASITE (grant number 312068).


  • mathematics and computing
  • parasitic infection
  • parasitology


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