The trichinosis parasite is a foodborne illness we don’t often here about as frequently as salmonella. The reason may be because meat manufacturing practices have been implemented to minimize the incidence of the roundworms in the meat. As a result of these changes, trichinosis is more common in rural areas and found in wild and non-commercially produced meats. It manifests in the body in the form of a roundworm infection.
The trichinosis roundworms are parasites. A parasite is an organism that lives and feeds on or in an organism of a different species and causes harm to its host. The roundworm parasites enter the host body and feed off the host body for sustenance and reproduction. Trichinosis does not only infect humans but animals as well, most commonly domestic pigs, bears, wild boar, and foxes.
The parasite is transferred to humans who eat the immature form of the roundworm larvae. The larvae is found in raw and undercooked meat. The larvae grow in the small intestine and then travel to the rest of the body. Trichinosis is found most often in rural parts of the world where game meat and pork are heavily consumed.
Symptoms of the parasite can range from mild to severe symptoms. These may include muscle pain and weakness, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, cramping, high fever, and aching joints. Treatment must immediately be administered once trichinosis is diagnosed. In some cases the symptoms may present as pink eye (conjunctivitis). The treatment is in the form of prescription medication which treats trichinellosis and the symptoms of the trichinella infestation.
The best method to prevent trichinellosis infection is to adhere to proper food safety methods. Ensure you cook meats thoroughly to the recommended temperatures and ensure you utilize proper hot and cold holding temperatures. Proper handwashing and sanitizing of all equipment and contact surfaces will also help to minimize risk of trichinosis.