Trichinosis, also called trichinellosis, is a parasitic disease caused by eating raw or undercooked pork and wild game products infected with the larvae of a species of roundworm Trichinella spiralis, commonly called the trichina worm. Infection is common where raw or undercooked pork, such as ham or sausage, is regularly consumed as part of the diet. more...
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms can be divided into two types: symptoms caused by worms in the intestine, and symptoms caused by worms elsewhere.
In the intestine, infection can cause:
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and abdominal discomfort
Later, as the worms encyst in different parts of the body, other symptoms occur such as:
- Headaches, fevers, chills, cough, eye swelling, aching joints and muscle pains, pinpoint hemorrhages, itchy skin, and heightened numbers of white blood cells.
If worms penetrate nervous tissue, they cannot survive, but patients may experience difficulty coordinating movements, and respiratory paralysis. In severe cases, death may occur. Heart infection can also cause death.
For mild to moderate infections, most symptoms subside within a few months. Fatigue, weakness, and diarrhea may last for months.
Abdominal symptoms can occur 1-2 days after infection. Further symptoms usually start 2-8 weeks after eating contaminated meat. Symptoms may range from very mild to severe and relate to the number of infectious worms consumed in meat. Often, mild cases of trichinosis are never specifically diagnosed and are assumed to be the flu or other common illnesses.
The worm can infect any species of mammal (including humans) that consumes its encysted larval stages. When an animal eats meat that contains infective Trichinella cysts, the acid in the stomach dissolves the hard covering of the cyst and releases the worms. The worms pass into the small intestine and, in 1-2 days, become mature. After mating, adult females produce larvae, which break through the intestinal wall and travel through the lymphatic system to the circulatory system to find a suitable cell. Larvae can penetrate any cell, but can only survive in skeletal muscle. Within a muscle cell, the worms curl up and direct the cells functioning much as a virus does. The cell is now called a nurse cell. Soon, a net of blood vessels surround the nurse cell, providing added nutrition for the larva inside.
Eating raw or undercooked meats, particularly pork, bear, wild feline (such as a cougar), fox, dog, wolf, horse, seal, or walrus puts one at risk for trichinosis. This is the only way that infection can occur. It is not transmitted from one person to another, except through cannibalism. Even ingesting infected feces will not cause trichinosis because adults and unencysted larvae cannot survive in the stomach.
A blood test or muscle biopsy can identify trichinosis. Stool studies can identify adult worms, with females being about 3 mm long and males about half that size.
Read more at Wikipedia.org