Life cycle of Anisakis simplex and Pseudoterranova decipiens, parasitic agents of anisakiasis in humans

Life cycle of Anisakis simplex and Pseudoterranova decipiens, parasitic agents of anisakiasis in humans
Photographer: Centers for Disease Control/Division of Parasitic Diseases and MalariaRights holder: Centers for Disease Control/Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria

Adult stages of Anisakis simplex and Pseudoterranova decipiens reside in the stomachs of marine mammals, where they are embedded in the mucosa in clusters.  Unembryonated eggs produced by adult females are passed in the feces of marine mammals (1).  The eggs become embryonated in water, and first-stage larvae are formed in the eggs.  The larvae molt, becoming second-stage larvae (2a), and after the larvae hatch from the eggs, they become free-swimming (2b).  Larvae released from the eggs are ingested by crustaceans (3).  The ingested larvae develop into third-stage larvae that are infective to fish and squid (4).  The larvae migrate from the intestine to the tissues in the peritoneal cavity and grow up to 3 cm in length.  Upon the host's death, larvae migrate to the muscle tissues, and through predation, the larvae are transferred from fish to fish.  Fish and squid maintain third-stage larvae that are infective to humans and marine mammals (5).  When fish or squid containing third-stage larvae are ingested by marine mammals, the larvae molt twice and develop into adult worms.  The adult females produce eggs that are shed by marine mammals (6).  Humans become infected by eating raw or undercooked infected marine fish (7).  After ingestion, the anisakid larvae penetrate the gastric and intestinal mucosa, causing the symptoms of anisakiasis.

From Centers for Disease Control Parasites and Health website.