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Definition of Trichinosis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Trichinosis: A disease that is due to eating raw or undercooked pork or wild game that is infected with Trichinella spiralis larvae. Initial symptoms are abdominal discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, and fever. Next usually come headaches, fevers, chills, cough, eye swelling, aching joints, muscle pains, itchy skin, diarrhea, and constipation. With heavy infection, patients may experience difficulty coordinating movements and have heart and breathing problems. In severe cases, death can occur. The severity of symptoms depends on the number of infectious worms consumed in meat. To avoid trichinosis, pork and wild game meat should be thoroughly cooked (freezing wild game may not effectively kill all worms); all meat that is fed to pigs or other wild animals should be cooked first; meat grinders should be cleaned thoroughly; curing (salting), drying, smoking, and microwaving meat do not consistently kill infective worms. Irradiation of wild game meat can kill the parasites. A person who thinks he or she has trichinosis should seek medical attention. Also known as trichinellosis.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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