So, You Were Thinking About a Midnight Snack of Raw Centipede?

CentipedeWhile we’re all on lockdown, avoiding contact with one another lest we spread or catch what some are calling the “invisible enemy,” I thought I would share this bit of science news about another unseen horror.

Here’s the headline from the excellent blog Science Alert:

Deadly Parasite Discovered in Chinese Family

Shows You Should Never Eat Raw Centipedes

We can start with that admonition. Who among us hasn’t at one time or another been tempted to have a midnight snack of uncooked centipede, nobody ever asked.

Apart from being disgusting, the poisonous bite of the centipede, while ordinarily not fatal to humans, can cause severe swelling, weakness, fever and chills. In children and people allergic to insect bites, it can lead to anaphylactic shock.

Not to mention that having a wriggling multi-legged wormish critter dangling from the corner of your mouth may not identify you as desirable mating material in social settings. And it could give you halitosis.

Most of us in the West may not have considered adding centipedes to our dinner menus, programmed as we are to find our meals neatly packaged in boxes and cellophane wrap. But elsewhere on this great big planet of ours cooked centipedes are, indeed, a food staple.

Further proof some people will eat anything. Even sushi.

So, what’s the big deal about chowing down on a raw centipede? Well, that takes us back to the invisible enemy portion of this discussion. Turns out that in addition to being creepy, centipedes also carry a parasitic roundworm often called the rat lungworm.

Invisible to the naked eye, this parasite can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system much like meningitis. And it can be embarrassing.

Imagine your conversation with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates when he asks you, “Well, dude, what brought you here?”

And you know you can’t lie to St. Peter so you are compelled to confess, “Rat lungworm.”

“Dude! That’s disgusting. Is it contagious? Get out of here. You need to go cook that out of your system.” And then the trapdoor to hell opens.

But this humiliating situation can be avoided.

As one scientist said:

“We should not eat raw centipedes, as well as other raw animals. We should realize that proper cooking technique is important to protect us from food-borne diseases.”

Now, about that sushi…

STRANGE FACT: In Southeast Asia, large centipedes are bottled in alcohol and the resulting liqueur is considered medicinal. So is pickled scorpion.

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