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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of trichinosis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of trichinosis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of trichinosis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of trichinosis

Trichinosis is a parasitic disease caused by eating raw or undercooked pork infected with the larvae of Trichinella spiralis. It may infect and damage many body tissues.

Incidence, age and sex

It is common in developing countries where meat fed to pigs is raw or undercooked, but many cases also come from developed countries in Europe and North America, where raw or undercooked pork and wild game may be consumed as delicacies.

Signs and symptoms

A light infection with a few worms may be asymptomatic; a heavy infection causes nausea and diarrhoea 24-48 hours after the infected meal. A few days later, the symptoms associated with larval invasion predominate; fever and oedema of the face, eyelids and conjunctivae. Invasion of the diaphragm may cause pain, cough and dyspnoea; involvement of the muscles of the limbs, chest and mouth cause stiffness, pain and tenderness in affected muscles.

Biopsy from the deltoid or gastrocnemius after the third week of symptoms in suspected cases may reveal encysted larvae. Serological tests are also helpful.

Causes and prevention

Trichinosis is caused by species of roundworm Trichinella spiralis, commonly called the trichina worm. The disease can be prevented by prohibiting the feeding of raw meat garbage to hogs, increased commercial and home freezing of pork, and the public awareness of the danger of eating raw or undercooked pork products.

Complications

Larval migration may cause acute myocarditis and encephalitis. Symptoms of encephalitis are diverse; they include confusion, delirium, ataxia, seizures, vertigo, auditory and speech changes along with many other neurological deficits.

An intense infection may prove fatal but those who survive recover completely

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