What is trichinosis?
Trichinosis is an illness caused by a very small parasite called Trichinella spiralis.
Where is the parasite found?
Animals such as pigs, dogs, cats, horses, rats, and many wild animals including, wolf, bear, fox, and some sea mammals such as walrus carry the parasite.
How does the parasite spread?
The usual source of human infection is eating raw or undercooked meats, particularly pork, but horsemeat and wild animal meat can also be sources. The disease does not spread from person-to-person.
Who gets trichinosis?
Anyone who eats undercooked meat of infected animals can develop trichinosis.
What are the symptoms of trichinosis?
Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, and abdominal discomfort are the first symptoms of trichinosis. Headache, fever, chills, cough, eye swelling, aching joints and muscle pains, itchy skin, or constipation follow the first symptoms. If the infection is severe, patients may experience difficulty coordinating movements, and have heart and breathing problems.
How soon do symptoms appear?
Abdominal symptoms can occur 1 - 2 days after infection. Further symptoms usually occur 8-15 days after eating contaminated meat.
What is the treatment for trichinosis?
Several safe and effective prescription drugs are available to treat trichinosis.
How can trichinosis be prevented?
- Cook all fresh pork, pork products, and meat from wild animals at a temperature and for a time sufficient to allow all parts to reach at least 160°F.
- Freeze pork less than 6 inches thick for 20 days at 5°F to kill any parasites. Freezing wild game meats, unlike freezing pork products, even for long periods of time, may not kill all parasites.
- Cook all meat fed to pigs or other wild animals.
- Do not allow pigs to eat uncooked carcasses of other animals, including rats, which may be infected with parasites.
- Clean meat grinders thoroughly if you prepare your own ground meats.
- Curing (salting), drying, smoking, or microwaving meat does not always kill the parasites.
This fact sheet is for informational purposes only. It should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you think that you may have this infection, or have questions about the disease described above, you should consult your health care provider.
For additional information on this disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
To contact the Epidemiology and Emerging Infections Program, please call 860-509-7994.