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Trichinosis (Trichinellosis)

Background

Trichinosis (trichinellosis) results from infection by a parasitic nematode belonging to the genus Trichinella. Trichinosis, although often unrecognized and underreported, has been an important disease in humans for thousands of years. An estimated 10,000 cases occur worldwide annually.
Virtually all mammals are susceptible to infection; however, humans are especially prone to developing clinical disease via foodborne infection.
Humans are infected when they ingest inadequately cooked meat that contains larvae of Trichinella species, usually Trichinella spiralis, which is present mainly in wild game meat or pork.
Symptomatic infections characterized by diarrhea, myositis, fever, and periorbital edema develop when large numbers of larvae are ingested.

Species of Trichinella responsible for the infection are widely geographically distributed (see table), with habitats including the Arctic, temperate lands, and the tropics.

Table 1. Biologic and Zoogeographic Features of Trichinella Species (Open Table in a new window)

Species

Distribution

Major Hosts

Reported from Humans

T spiralis

Cosmopolitan

Domestic pigs, wild mammals

Yes

T britovi

Eurasia/Africa

Wild mammals

Yes

T murrelli

North America

Wild mammals

Yes

T nativa

Arctic/subarctic, Palaearctic

Bears, foxes

Yes

T nelsoni

Equatorial Africa

Hyenas, felids

Yes

T pseudospiralis *

Cosmopolitan

Wild mammals, birds

Yes

T papuae *

Papua New Guinea, Thailand

Pigs, crocodiles

Yes

T zimbabwensis *

East and South Africa

Crocodiles, lizards, lions

No

* Nonencapsulating types

 

 

 

Reprinted from Adv Parasitol, Vol 63, Murrell KD, Pozio E, Systematics and epidemiology of Trichinella, pg 367, 2006, with permission from Elsevier.

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