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Trichinosis is an infection by the nematode parasite, Trichinella spiralis. The infection is acquired by ingestion of larvae in inadequately cooked, contaminated meat, especially pork, bear, and walrus meat may also be sources of infection.
After ingestion, acid-pepsin digestion in the stomach liberates the larvae, which develop into adult worms in the small intestine. After fertilization, the female worm produces larvae that penetrate the mucosa and seed the skeletal muscles via the blood stream. In muscle fibers they coil and encyst, remaining viable for up to several years.
Diarrhea is the most common symptom associated with intestinal infection with adult worms. Subsequently, during systemic invasion by the larvae, fever, periorbital swelling, muscle pain and swelling, and pulmonary symptoms and rash develop.
As an adjunct in the diagnosis of trichinosis
A positive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) suggests current infection with Trichinella spiralis. Serology should be used in conjunction with clinical, epidemiologic, and other laboratory tests to establish the correct diagnosis.
The number of individuals showing positive results may vary significantly between populations and geographic regions.
Antibodies to Trichinella spiralis may not be detectable until 3 weeks after the onset of infection. Therefore, negative results in suspicious cases should be followed by repeat testing in several weeks.
Negative (reported as positive or negative)
Grove DI: Tissue nematodes. In Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. Fourth edition. Edited by GL Mandell, et al. New York, Churchill Livingstone, 1995