Trichinellosis is a zoonotic disease caused by Trichinella parasites. The disease occurs worldwide. Many animals may act as reservoirs, but those most frequently involved in cases of human infection are pigs and horses. In Europe, wild boars have also been implicated.
Infested animals harbour larvae encysted in their muscles, and consumption of raw or undercooked meat products may lead to disease. Typically, after an incubation phase of about 24–48 hours, fever and intestinal symptoms may appear, due to larvae invading the intestine. Then, about a week after infection, larval invasion of the muscles begins: muscle aches and fever are characteristic. Finally, acute symptoms fade, but muscle problems may take a long time to resolve. Depending on the number of viable larvae consumed, symptoms will vary from without any symptoms to extremely severe or even fatal (massive invasion of the bowel and/or massive invasion of internal organs) disease. Effective treatment is available.
Trichinellosis prevention is based on accurate inspection of all slaughtered pigs and horses, which is mandatory in the EU. Imported and wild animal meat presents a higher risk and its consumption in the undercooked or raw state should be discouraged.