Trichinosis (Trichinellosis)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Roundworms...Of Kings and Worms or How Kings, Commoners, and Cats Are the Same Food

King Richard III remains were recently discovered in Leicester, England, in 2012. While examining his remains, researchers discovered roundworm eggs. They sought to determine if he had been infected with the parasitic roundworms.

Trichinosis facts

  • Trichinosis is caused by eating raw or undercooked pork and wild game infected with the larvae of a parasitic worm.
  • The contaminated meat is infected with the larvae of a worm called Trichinella spiralis.
  • The initial symptoms of trichinosis are abdominal discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, and fever.
  • The severity of symptoms depends on the number of infectious worms consumed in the meat.
  • Never eat raw or undercooked pork or wild game.
  • If you think you may have trichinosis, seek medical attention.

What is trichinosis?

Trichinosis is a disease caused by parasitic roundworms (nematodes) that can infect and damage body tissues. Nematodes are a major division of the helminth family of parasitic worms (for example, Trichinella spiralis). When ingested, these parasitic worms can pass through the intestinal tract to invade other tissues, such as muscle, where they persist. Trichinosis is also termed trichinellosis, trichiniasis, or trichinelliasis. Trichinosis is not to be confused with trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease caused by the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite.

What are symptoms of trichinosis?

Trichinosis is usually characterized by two phases: the initial phase (intestinal) of abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and nausea that begins one to two days after ingestion and the second phase (muscle) of muscle aches, itching, fever, chills, and joint pains that begins about two to eight weeks after ingestion. In addition, there can be "splinter" hemorrhages under fingernails and eye inflammation (conjunctivitis).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/9/2015
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