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Trichinosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Aug 31, 2023

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Causes of Trichinosis

Symptoms Of Trichosis

Risk Factors Of Trichinosis

Diagnosis Of Trichinosis

Treatment Of Trichinosis

Prevention Of Trichinosis

Complications Of Trichinosis

Trichinosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Trichinellosis, also referred to as trichinosis, is a parasite food-borne illness that can be acquired by eating raw or undercooked foods, particularly pork products that have been contaminated with Trichinella larvae, a type of roundworm. The food you eat is broken down by the acid and enzymes in your stomach. 

The acid and enzymes in infected meat break the tough outer covering (cyst) of the larvae, releasing the adult worms. The worms then produce larvae, which settle in your bodily tissues, especially the muscles. Regardless of age or health, anyone can get trichosis.


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Causes of Trichinosis

Meat that is uncooked or undercooked may contain parasitic roundworm larvae called Trichinella which can infect people and lead to trichinosis. It is impossible to spread the parasite to someone else.

When animals eat the infected animals then there are high chances of them getting infected too.

Anywhere in the world, meat from wild animals like bears, cougars, wolves, wild boars, walruses, or seals could be contaminated. When domestic pigs and horses eat rubbish containing diseased meat scraps, they can acquire trichinosis.

Since cows don't eat meat, beef cannot cause trichinosis. However, consuming beef that had been mixed with infected pork has been linked to a few human cases of trichinosis.

Another way to contract trichinosis is to grind beef or other meat in a grinder that has previously been used to grind infected meat.

Also Read: Dengue Hemorrhagic Syndrome Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Symptoms Of Trichosis

Trichinosis symptoms might be very mild or extremely severe. A few days after the worms enter your body, you may experience the following early symptoms:

  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Abdominal pain.

After eating the contaminated meat, you may experience symptoms that start approximately two weeks later and extend for up to several weeks. They consist of:

  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Swollen eyes
  • Chills
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Both constipation and diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Skin rash or irritation

Trichinosis can lead to severe situations.

  • Coordination and mobility problems.
  • Muscular inflammation in your heart.
  • Breathing challenges.
  • Brain inflammation (encephalitis).

The duration of these symptoms ranges from five to forty-five days, but they often start to show up 10 to 14 days after eating the contaminated meat. One to two days after infection, abdominal symptoms can start significantly sooner. Trichinosis in its milder forms is frequently mistaken for the flu or other viral infections. Trichinosis can be fatal in severe situations.

Also Read: Babesiosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Risk Factors Of Trichinosis

Trichinosis risk factors include:

  • Improper cooking of food. Humans can contract trichinosis by consuming diseased meat, such as pig and wild animal meat, that is either raw or undercooked. Other meat that has been tainted by grinders or other machinery may also be included.
  • Rural regions. Around the world, trichinosis is more prevalent in rural regions. Infection rates are higher in areas where hogs are raised.
  • Consuming unprocessed or wild meat. The number of trichinosis illnesses from commercial meats has significantly decreased because of public health initiatives. However, noncommercial farm animals are more likely to get infected, especially if they have access to wild animal carcasses. Wild animals continue to be common sources of illness.

Also Read: Helicobacter Pylori: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Diagnosis Of Trichinosis

Trichinosis can be identified by your doctor after talking to you about your symptoms and performing a physical examination. If you've consumed any undercooked or raw meat, your provider may also inquire.

Your doctor may run the following tests to determine the source of your infection:

  • Blood test. Your healthcare provider might draw blood to check for trichinosis-related symptoms. These symptoms include a rise in eosinophils, a particular type of white blood cell, or the development of antibodies against the parasite after a period of time.
  • A muscle biopsy. Usually, a blood test is sufficient for diagnosis. But a muscle biopsy may also be suggested by your doctor. The larvae of roundworms (trichinella) are sought out using a small bit of muscle that is extracted and studied under a microscope.
  • Stool Test- Trichinella larvae enter your bloodstream from the small intestine and burrow into muscle tissue. As a result, tests on stool samples rarely reveal the parasite.

Also Read: Gonorrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Treatment Of Trichinosis

Trichinosis frequently heals on its own. Most symptoms in situations with a mild or moderate amount of larvae usually disappear within a few months. However, minor discomforts like diarrhea, weakness, and exhaustion could last for many months or even years. Large infestations of larvae might result in more severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

Depending on your symptoms and the severity of the illness, your doctor may recommend drugs.

Antiparasitic medicine. The primary line of trichinosis treatment is antiparasitic medicine. The worms and larvae in the small intestine can be eliminated with albendazole (Albenza) or mebendazole (Emverm) if your doctor diagnoses roundworm (trichinella) parasites early. During therapy, the medications may produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

This occurs when the parasite enters the muscle tissue or when larvae that are dead or dying release chemicals into the muscle tissue. A steroid prescription may be recommended by your doctor to treat pain and swelling.

Also Read: Shigellosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Prevention Of Trichinosis

In order to prevent trichinosis, food preparation should be done properly. For advice on preventing trichinosis, read on:

  • Avoid meat that is raw or undercooked. Make careful to fully cook meat portions until they are browned. Cook pork and meat from wild animals until the center registers 160 F (71 C). Use a meat thermometer to check that the meat is completely done. After you remove meat from the fire, wait at least three minutes before cutting or eating it.
  • Chill pork. Roundworm parasites can be eradicated from pork that is less than 6 inches thick by freezing it at 5 F (-15 C) for three weeks. But even after a prolonged period of freezing, roundworm parasites in wild animal meat will not perish.
  • Realize that alternative processing techniques do not eradicate parasites. Other meat processing and preservation techniques, such as smoking, curing, and pickling, are ineffective at eliminating roundworm parasites from diseased meat. Additionally, it is not advised to microwave cook in order to eradicate roundworm parasites. This is due to the fact that using a microwave does not guarantee even cooking to assure the death of all parasites.
  • Thoroughly clean the meat grinders. Make sure the grinder is fully cleaned after each use if you grind your own meat.
  • Washing by hand. After handling raw meat, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. This can stop an infection from spreading to other foods.

Also Read: Clostridium Difficile: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Complications Of Trichinosis

Trichinosis-related consequences are uncommon, save in extreme situations. Roundworm (trichinella) larvae can migrate through the body to reach muscle tissue in and around organs in cases where there are many of them. Complications like inflammation and pain (which could be hazardous or even fatal) of the:

  • Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle layer
  • (Encephalitis) the brain
  • Meningitis refers to the protective tissue layer that surrounds the brain and spinal cord
  • (Pneumonitis) the lungs

Also Read: Giardiasis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

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