Trichinosis – It’s Not Just an Issue in Pork
This once shared disease from eating undercooked pork has become something of a rarity in this country at around a dozen situations yearly. However, the few situations that do exist are typically associated with people that hunt and eat wild game.
Due to laws here that require and enforce the cooking of garbage and offal before feeding to swine, better pest control by keeping rats away from where pigs are kept and an educated public who is aware of the risks of eating undercooked pork, Trichinella is a minor public health issue.
There are nevertheless small outbreaks now and then here and oversea with the consumption of dog, bear, wild boar and cougar, just to name a few.
Other animals that are considered hosts to this parasite include: cats, rats, horses, foxes, wolves, polar produces, marine mammals of the Arctic and lions and leopards in the tropics.
Trichinosis is a parasitic disease caused by the roundworm Trichinella spiralis. If someone ingests undercooked or raw meat with the encysted larvae, the stomach acid releases the larvae which mature to adults in the intestine.
After about a week the female starts releasing larvae which go into the bloodstream and find their way to skeletal muscle where they encapsulate.
There can be gastrointestinal symptoms mimicking acute food poisoning when there is activity of the adults in the intestine.
Sudden turn up of fever, muscle soreness and pain with swelling of parts of the confront is early typical signs. This can sometimes be followed by retinal hemorrhages and other ocular signs.
With heavy infections cardiac, respiratory and neurological problems may be later to with death by heart failure being most shared. The more larvae you ingest, the more serious the disease.
Trichinosis can be diagnosed by serological (antigen-antibody) tests. Finding encysted larvae in a biopsy of skeletal muscle is conclusive (see above).
It can be treated with the anti-parasitic drugs mebendazole or albendazole. Steroids may be required in situations with harsh symptoms to reduce inflammation to protect the heart.
What preventive measures are obtainable?
o Cook all fresh pork, pork products and meat from wild animals to where all the meats reaches 160° F. The meat should turn from pink to gray.
o halting pork at -13° F for at the minimum 10 days will kill the cysts. The exception to this rule is strains of Trichinella found in walrus and bear meat which are cold-resistant and must be cooked as noted above.
o Smoking, salting or drying meat is not effective.