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.

Is trichinosis a common disease?

Trichinosis is a common disease in many wild carnivorous and omnivorous animals worldwide, except for Australia. Infection is now relatively rare in the United States. During 2008 through 2010, 20 cases were reported per year, on average. For example, the United States has averaged only about 12-20 cases per year in the last two decades. However, there are outbreaks that occur sporadically in the world when meat (especially pork) is improperly cooked or is contaminated with undercooked or raw wild-game meat. If the source of the outbreak is a meat supplier, hundreds of people can become infected as was the situation that occurred in Poland in 2007.

Is it possible to prevent trichinosis?

Yes, trichinosis can be prevented. The CDC has outlined specific ways to prevent this disease as follows:

  • The best way to prevent trichinellosis is to cook meat 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. USDA recommends the following for meat preparation.
    • For whole cuts of meat (excluding poultry and wild game)
      • Cook to at least 145 F (63 C) as measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allow the meat to rest* for three minutes before carving or consuming.
    • For ground meat (including wild game, excluding poultry)
      • Cook to at least 160 F (71 C); ground meats do not require a rest* time.
    • For all wild game (whole cuts and ground)
      • Cook to at least 160 F (71 C).
    • For all poultry (whole cuts and ground)
      • Cook to at least 165 F (74 C), and for whole poultry, allow the meat to rest* for three minutes before carving or consuming.

*According to USDA, "A 'rest time' is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens."

Where can I get more information on trichinosis?

Medically reviewed by Joseph Palermo, D.O.; American Osteopathic Board Certified Internal Medicine


"Parasites -- Trichinellosis: Biology." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated Aug. 8, 2012. .

"Parasites -- Trichinellosis: Prevention & Control." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 19, 2013. .

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2016

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