Officials with the Central Hospital for Tropical Diseases (CHTD) are advising the public not to consume uncooked pork after the death of one person from trichinosis, according to a Vietnam News report.

Trichinella spiralis parasite
Trichinella spiralis cysts

Two patients from Lai Châu Province and were brought to the hospital after suffering from exhaustion and painful muscles. They could not swallow anything and found it difficult to speak, according to the head of the Emergency Department at the CHTD, Nguyễn Trung Cap.

One patient died and the other remains hospitalized.

According to the report, relatives said they slaughtered a sick pig early last month. They prepared tiết canh (a delicacy with raw pig’s blood) and a dish with uncooked pork.

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The news account does not say how trichinosis was diagnosed.

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.

What preventive measures are available?

• Cook all fresh pork, pork products and meat from wild animals to where all the meats reaches 160° F. The meat should turn from pink to gray.
• Freezing pork at -13° F for at least 10 days will kill the cysts. The exception to this rule is strains of Trichinella found in walrus and bear meat which are cold-resistant and must be cooked as noted above.
• Smoking, salting or drying meat is not effective.


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