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Diseases & Conditions

Food Poisoning

(Also Called 'Foodborne Illness', 'Salmonella', 'Shigella')

What is trichinosis?

Trichinosis is a food borne disease that is caused by eating raw or undercooked meats particularly pork products infested with the larvae of a species of worm called trichinella spiralis. Anyone is susceptible, regardless of age or health status.

What causes trichinosis?

The most common causes of trichinosis are:

  • Consumption of raw or undercooked pork products
  • Consumption of improperly stored meats
  • Unclean kitchen utensils used to prepare meats

What are symptoms of trichinosis?

Symptoms of trichinosis range from very mild to severe and can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle soreness
  • Headaches
  • Eye swelling

Additional symptoms that may develop include:

  • Thirst
  • Profuse sweating
  • Chills
  • Extreme tiredness

In severe cases, trichinosis can cause:

  • Difficulty coordinating movements
  • Inflammation of the heart muscles
  • Difficulty while breathing

These symptoms can last from 5 to 45 days, but they usually begin to appear 10 to 14 days after consuming the infected meat. Milder cases of trichinosis are often mistaken for the flu or other common illnesses. In extreme cases, trichinosis may result in death.

How can I prevent trichinosis?

Prevention of trichinosis is quite simple:

  • Cook meat products until the juices run clear or until they reach an internal temperature of 170 F. Purchasing and using a meat thermometer will insure accuracy.
  • Freeze pork less than 6 inches thick for 20 days at 5 F.
  • Cook all other meats thoroughly.
  • If you prepare your own ground meats, clean meat grinders thoroughly with hot, soapy water.
  • Make sure that you thoroughly clean kitchen utensils and counters with hot, soapy water.

What is the treatment for trichinosis?

If you have eaten raw or undercooked meat and show symptoms of trichinosis, you should contact your health care provider. Treatment should begin as soon as possible; failure to treat trichinosis could be fatal. Treatment is based on symptoms, the specific cause, and laboratory tests results. Milder cases may include bed rest and medications to relieve fever and muscle pain. More severe cases may include steroids to reduce muscle inflammation and heart complications.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. This document was last reviewed on: 1/26/2010...#7142

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