Trichinosis is an infection caused by the larvae of Trichinella spiralis. This parasite lives in the intestines of most meat eating animals. Cysts from the worm located in the intestinal tract enter the muscles and form cysts. When the muscle is eaten, the cysts can develop into a new generation of worms. Eating raw or undercooked pork is the most common mode of transmission to humans. This disorder affects the gastrointestinal tract (where larvae enter); lymphatic system and blood-stream (through which they are transported); and the large muscles of the body, especially diaphragm, arms and legs (in which they become embedded).
Causes of Trichinosis
Trichinosis is due to infection with a parasite, Trichinella spiralis. It is transmitted to people when they eat muscles of infected animals. Thorough cooking with high heat kills the parasite and makes infected meat safe to eat. The parasites spread from animal to animal via contaminated food (usually raw garbage).
Signs and Symptoms of Trichinosis
Immediately after eating contaminated meat there are usually no symptoms. Within two to twelve days, people that have consumed infected meat may develop diarrhea, abdominal pain and malaise. Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite may occur. When the muscles become involved, there is typically muscle pain and tenderness. Fever, swelling of the face, itching and burning skin may develop. The symptoms may gradually disappear after 4-6 weeks. However, chronic involvement with the heart, the muscles and the brain may occur.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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