The Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health of Cordoba, Argentina has issued an alert warning the public of the risk of eating or buying pork meat from questionable sources that has not been inspected, after a spike in trichinellosis cases were reported in the area, according to a recent epi report (computer translated).

 Trichinella spiralis parasite
Trichinella spiralis cysts
Image/CDC

To date, 13 people have been treated for trichinellosis at the Municipal Hospital “Dr Rene Geronimo Favaloro” and at the “Clinica Privada Sur” in the city of Berrotaran and at the “Dr Guillermo Golesbery Rawson” hospital in the city of Cordoba. All patients reported consumption of products made with pork bought in a shop in the same locality.

Health and Agriculture officials are currently performing the investigation.

Trichinellosis, or trichinosis is a parasitic disease caused most commonly by the roundworm Trichinella spiralis. If someone ingests undercooked or raw meat with the encysted larvae, the stomach acid releases the larvae which mature to adults in the intestine.

After about a week the female starts releasing larvae which enter the bloodstream and find their way to skeletal muscle where they encapsulate.

There can be gastrointestinal symptoms mimicking acute food poisoning when there is activity of the adults in the intestine.

Sudden appearance of fever, muscle soreness and pain with swelling of parts of the face is early classic signs. This can sometimes be followed by retinal hemorrhages and other ocular signs.

With heavy infections cardiac, respiratory and neurological problems may ensue with death by heart failure being most common. The more larvae you ingest, the more serious the disease.

Cordoba health officials offer the following prevention measures:

  • Do not consume or permit the consumption of raw meats and homemade sausages that have not been previously inspected.
  • Check the tag or manufacturing label of all pork products being acquired; they should clearly state the product brand; company responsible; number of national registry of the establishment; date of manufacture and expiration of the product; maintenance conditions regarding environmental temperature; and a label with the composition of the product.
  • Do not consume choripan [chorizo sandwich] from unauthorized vendors.

It must be remembered that:

  • Salting or smoking meats is not enough to destroy parasites.
  • Marketing of meat or meat products from non-licensed premises is prohibited, as is the purchase and sale of food from unauthorized street vendors.

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