To some extent you can relax because this doesn’t affect humans. On the other hand cymothoa exigua is probably the most disturbing thing you will read about today.
Cymothoa exigua, also known as the ‘tongue eating louse’, is a parasite that affects fish, especially red snapper. The parasite enters the fish through the gills and attaches itself to the fish’s tongue. The female attaches to the tongue and the male attaches on the gill arches beneath and behind the female.
What it does next is freakish.
The parasite destroys the fish’s tongue by extracting blood through its claws causing the tongue to atrophy. It then attaches itself to the remaining stub so that it becomes the new tongue.
Where is it found?
Cymothoa exigua is mainly found of the west coast of the Americas between the Gulf of California and Ecuador. It is also found to a lesser extent in New Zealand waters.
Is it harmful to humans?
The parasite is not known to affect humans, unless they are picked up alive in which case they can bite. Cymothoa exigua is not poisonous and affected fish are regularly shipped around the world for commercial consumption. People have been known to freak out when finding one in the whole fish they have purchased.
The 2012 film The Bay, featured the parasite attacking humans after mutating to a much larger size due to steroids in chicken poop dumped in Chesapeake Bay. Sounds great.