The Disease Ecology, Epidemiology, Clinical Manifestations, and Management of Trichinellosis Linked to Consumption of Wild Animal Meat

Published in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 2020; 31(2): 235e44

Trichinellosis (formerly trichinosis) is a parasitic infection caused by migrating larvae of Trichinella nematodes. Trichinella worms are among the world’s most widely distributed zoonotic parasites, with a large animal reservoir in amphibians, reptiles, rodents, birds, and mammals. Historically, human trichinellosis was caused by Trichinella spiralis, the pork worm, and transmitted to humans by consumption of undercooked domestic pork and pork containing products, especially sausage.  Today, trichinellosis is less often associated with consumption of T spiralis-infected commercial pork products in the United States, Europe, and Asia due to hygienic advances in the domestic pork industry. Trichinellosis is now transmitted more often by the consumption of raw or undercooked wild and home-raised game meats, such as wild boar, bear, deer, moose, and walrus.

the objectives of this review are: 1) to describe the life cycle and global distribution of Trichinella worms; 2) to describe the changing epidemiology of trichinellosis; 3) to describe the clinical phases of trichinellosis; 4) to recommend the latest diagnostic tests, and 5) to recommend treatment and prevention strategies.

Only adherence to hygienic practices when preparing wild game meats and cooking wild game meats to recommended internal temperatures can prevent the human transmission of trichinellosis. Wilderness medicine clinicians should be prepared to advise hunters and the public on the risks of game meat-linked trichinellosis and on how to prevent its transmission. Given the increasing prevalence of wild game meat-linked trichinellosis worldwide, clinicians should also be prepared to diagnose and treat trichinellosis to prevent complications and deaths.

This Review Article was published in the journal of Wilderness & Environmental Medicine March 10, 2020, by James H. Diaz, MD, MPH&TM, DrPH, FACOEM, FASTMH, Director and Faculty in the Program in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC); Rebecca J. Warren, BS, and Marissa J. Oster, BS, MPH (LSUHSC SPH Alumni ’20) from the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.

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