Trichinosis

Trichinosis is a parasitic infection caused by a round worm parasite named trichinella spiralis. The infection is incurred by the consumption of raw meat varieties, raw fresh water seafood, especially game meat and pork.

Consumption of contaminated food may allow cysts to hatch in the intestines, within a week. These produce adult worms of 2-4 mm in length.trichinosis

The adult worms later produce eggs which hatch and produce larvae. The larvae move into the bloodstream and muscle tissues, which include the diaphragm and the heart. They may also affect the brain and the lungs.

Symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Chills and persistent sweating
  • If cysts infect the diaphragm, people may also suffer from chest pain (however, chest pain may also indicate a heart attack, therefore, seek immediate medical attention)

Often there is an incubation period—between infection and symptoms and signs appearing in the host. Symptoms and signs may appear within one week after infection but the average incubation period is about 10-14 days of infection.

Treatment

Treatment involves taking anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory drugs. Anti-parasitic drugs are often not prescribed if the cysts start to infect the muscle tissues—only anti-inflammatory drugs will be effective.

If you suspect that you have contracted the infection, visit your doctor immediately as severe infection, involving the vital organs such as the brain and the heart may be fatal and difficult to treat. Complications include heart disease or heart failure, pneumonia and encephalitis.

Prevention

  • Cook meat thoroughly at high temperatures and make sure you freeze them before cooking in order to completely kill all the cysts present.
  • Drying and smoking will not affect the cysts at all, therefore, make sure you thoroughly cook the meat and check the meat for cysts while purchasing.
  • Stricter regulation of the consumption of animals bred just for eating have greatly reduced the infection in many parts of North America.

Further Training

If the symptoms for trichinosis are combined with other symptoms not on this list consult a medical professional immediately as they may be signs of circulatory emergencies such as heart attacks and angina. To learn more about these serious medical emergencies, how to differentiate, recognize and manage them enrol in St Mark James first aid training.

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