What is Trichinosis?

Trichinosis, or trichinellosis, is an infection caused by eating undercooked or raw pork and wild game that has been infected with the larvae of a species of roundworms. The infection is caused by the larvae of the Trichinella spiralis roundworm, a tiny worm that can often cause severe infection in humans.

Trichinosis was once a common infection in humans but is now a rare condition due to improved food preparation and better meat inspection. People which consume undercooked pork are at risk of becoming infected with the larvae. Eating wild game, such as bear or wild boar that has not been cooked properly, can also lead to infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Trichinosis

The signs and symptoms of trichinosis usually occur about 8-15 days after consuming undercooked or raw pork or wild game containing the infective larvae. The most common sign is a round, expanding pus-filled rash, which is caused by the larvae travelling through the skin. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Itching
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

In some cases, more serious symptoms can occur, including:

  • Eye swelling
  • Meningitis (inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord)
  • Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
  • Enlarged liver and/or spleen

Diagnosis and Treatment of Trichinosis

The diagnosis of trichinosis is usually based on a physical examination and a medical history. The doctor may also order blood tests, stool tests, or an imaging test. Treatment typically involves taking medications to destroy the larvae and to reduce the severity of the symptoms. Treatment is most effective when started early in the course of the infection.

The best way to prevent trichinosis is to practice good hygiene when handling and preparing pork and wild game. Do not eat undercooked pork or wild game, and always cook meat completely (preferably to an internal temperature of 70ÂșC) before consuming it. Be sure to wash your hands, cutting boards, and other kitchen utensils thoroughly after handling raw meat.