Trichinella in pigs

Trichinosis is a disease caused by the larvae, 'trichinae', of a small nematode worm (Trichinella spiralis), which can affect many species including humans.

People can become infected by eating raw, undercooked or processed meat from pigs, wild boar, horses or game that contain the trichinae.

The infection commonly causes symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and malaise. It can progress, causing fever, muscle pain and headaches and in severe cases may affect the vital organs possibly leading to meningitis, pneumonia or even death.

Animals can become infected when they ingest meat containing the trichinae. In the case of food species, such as pigs, the potential sources of infection are the consumption of dead infected animals, either directly or from contaminated commercial animal feeds. A number of wildlife species can also carry Trichinella including foxes, rodents and wild boar.

To prevent infected meat from pigs and other relevant species entering the human food chain, routine testing is mandatory within European Union (EU) member states.

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