Trichinellosis, also called trichinosis, is a disease that people can get by eating raw or undercooked meat from animals infected with a roundworm parasite, particularly wild game meat (for example, bear meat) or pork.
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Symptoms generally appear 5 to 15 days after being exposed to the infection and may range from very mild to severe. Often, mild cases of trichinellosis are never specifically diagnosed and are assumed to be the flu or other common illnesses. The first symptoms of trichinellosis occur suddenly, and they include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and stomach ache. Headaches, fevers, chills, cough, eye swelling, aching joints and muscle pains, itchy skin, diarrhea, or constipation follow the first symptoms. In more severe illness, people may experience difficulty coordinating movements, and have heart and breathing problems. In severe cases, death can occur. For mild to moderate infections, most symptoms subside within a few months. Fatigue, weakness, and diarrhea may last for months.
Trichinellosis is caused by eating raw or undercooked meat containing Trichinella worms. It cannot be transmitted from person to person.
Safe and effective prescription drugs are available to treat both Trichinella infection and the symptoms that occur as a result of infection. Treatment should begin as soon as possible.
Cook food to safe temperatures. A food thermometer should be used to measure the internal temperature of cooked meat. Do not sample meat until it is cooked. Even tasting very small amounts of undercooked meat during preparation or cooking puts you at risk for infection. Freezing wild game, unlike freezing pork, may not effectively kill all worms; some worm species are freeze-resistant. Curing (salting), drying, smoking or microwaving the meat does not consistently kill infective larvae.
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