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There is hidden danger lurking in your meat - Life cycle of an Infectious Disease: Trichinosis

Dr Sampurna Roy MD                       


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The boy ate sausages and bacon for breakfast.

After a week he had diarrhea and abdominal cramp.

Soon he had high fever, headache and his face and eyelids were swollen. He complained of severe muscle pain and tenderness. 

Peripheral blood showed eosinophilia. What happened to him ?




The sausages and bacon are made from undercooked pork which came from the pig infected by nematode Trichinella Spiralis.

The larvae are also present in the undercooked meat.

        (1)    (2)  


The cysts of Trichinella are digested in the Gastrointestinal Tract -

(1 and 2) , releasing larvae. These larvae mature to adult worms in the small intestine

(2) The female worms release larvae that penetrate the intestinal wall and enter the blood circulation.

The larvae lodge in striated muscle

(3) where they encyst. When human eat inadequately cooked pork the cycle is repeated resulting in muscle disease characteristic of Trichinosis.





Heart, central nervous system , kidney and lungs are also affected.

The growth of larvae and encystation do not occur in cardiac muscle. There is patchy or diffuse myocarditis. The larvae in the myocardium undergo necrosis and usually cannot be identified. There are foci of necrosis in the myocardium.

In the central nervous system there is diffuse leptomeningeal round cell type of infiltration. Minute foci of gliosis around capillaries are sometimes present.

Kidney shows immune-mediated glomerulonephritis.

Death may occur in severe, overwhelming infections as a result of involvement of respiratory muscles with secondary pulmonary complications.

Involvement of the myocardium is the most common cause of death, massive involvement may lead to cardiac failure.

Mortality in trichinosis is extremely low. The best method of diagnosis is muscle biopsy obtained from the tendinous insertions of deltoid or gastrocnemius muscles.

Further reading::

Pathology of Trichinosis ; Infectious Disease Online

Next time you eat dishes containing pork, make sure that the meat is cooked thoroughly. There should be no traces of pink. Freezing meat at subzero temperature will also kill the organism.


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Dr  Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)









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