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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How is trichinosis treated?

Most trichinosis infections have minor symptoms and do not require any treatment as all symptoms resolve without treatment. In those with more intense symptoms, thiabendazole (Mintezol) can be used to eliminate the adult worms in the gastrointestinal tract. Albendazole (Albenza) is another drug that may be used in some cases. The invasive and encysted larva forms of Trichinella species are treated by mebendazole (Vermox). Inflammation of infected tissues is usually treated with prednisone and is frequently used in combination with mebendazole.

Are there complications associated with trichinosis?

About 90%-95% of trichinosis infections have either minor or no symptoms and no complications. Patients with more serious symptoms, however, may develop complications such as heart muscle inflammation (myocarditis), pulmonary problems such as cough, shortness of breath, or lung hemorrhage (lung bleeding). Also, central nervous system (CNS) problems may develop. The CNS symptoms are diverse; they include confusion, delirium, ataxia, seizures, vertigo, auditory and speech changes along with many other neurological deficits. For some patients, these complications can slowly resolve over six months. In other patients, the complications can persist for years.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/9/2015

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