The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Trichinosis

Trichinosis is caused by the larvae of the roundworm (a helminth), which live in contaminated meat. If people eat contaminated meat that has not been cooked long enough, the larvae can enter the intestine. Over several weeks, the larvae mature into adults and can spread into tissues throughout the body. Trichinosis is more common in rural areas around the world.

Symptoms
Within 2 to 7 days after ingesting the larvae, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and overall malaise can occur. The severity of the symptoms depends on how much contaminated meat was consumed. In a mild case, an individual may not experience any symptoms. If the worms have entered the bloodstream, more acute symptoms, such as high fever, headache, pink eye, and muscle pain and tenderness, may appear.

Treatment
For a mild case, no treatment may be warranted. The symptoms will resolve on their own, although people may notice intermittent pain, fatigue, and diarrhea for months or even years later. For a more severe case, anti-parasite medication may be used. This treatment is more beneficial early on, before the roundworm has had a chance to spread. Pain relievers may be prescribed to alleviate muscle pain. Sometimes dead or dying larvae release chemicals in the muscles, causing inflammation. In those instances, corticosteroids may be prescribed.

Prevention
Make sure all meat is cooked to a temperature of 170°F (77°C). Trichinosis is common in pork, so take extra care when cooking this kind of meat. Also, make sure meat grinders and other kitchen tools are kept clean.

Source:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trichinosis/DS00689

Explore Other Topics

What do you know about infectious disease?

Which deadly pathogen cannot be found naturally in the wild:

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

  • Correct!

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

Infectious Disease Defined

Rheumatic Fever

An inflammatory disease that may be caused by an untreated or improperly treated case of strep throat.

View our full glossary