One can get food poisoning from pork because of the roundworm genus, Trichinella that is found in raw pork meat. The major symptoms of this type of food poisoning are abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and muscle pain.
Food poisoning refers to the medical condition caused after consuming contaminated foods. The primary causes for this health problem are disease-causing organisms, namely bacteria, virus, and intestinal parasites, which enter the human body via food and drink sources. Some of the food items that increase the risk of food poisoning are pork meat, fish, shrimp, eggs, and mushrooms. In many regions, undercooked and raw form of pork are consumed as delicacies, thus increasing the rate of food poisoning.
So, can you get food poisoning from pork? The answer is yes, if the pork that you have consumed is infected with an intestinal parasite, called roundworms. The larval stage of the parasite in cyst form is present in raw pork meat. Since the roundworm species that contaminate pork is Trichinella spiralis, the disease manifested after eating undercooked or uncooked pork is medically referred to as trichinosis. In short, pork food poisoning is known as trichinosis.
Similar to other cases, factors responsible for food poisoning from pork are improper cooking of pork, unhygienic handling, and incorrect storage. When uncooked or undercooked pork is ingested, the roundworm cysts reach the stomach, where they hatch into worms with the help of secreted stomach acid. The mature worms then spread to other parts of the digestive system and other internal tissues, thus resulting in varied medical conditions.
The severity of poisoning depends upon the contaminating organism, extent of contamination, amount of serving, and more importantly, the age and overall health of the person. For all instances, food poisoning symptoms are nearly the same, irrespective of the type of contaminated food consumed. The symptoms of trichinosis are observed in two successive phases. The noticeable signs manifested with pork food poisoning, with respect to the two stages are highlighted below.
Pork Food Poisoning Symptoms: First Phase
The initial stage of poisoning is called gastrointestinal stage or enteral phase. This is when the roundworm larvae in the stomach hatch into worms and infect the digestive tract. The following signs are observed in the first stage (2 – 7 days of infection).
- Abdominal discomfort
Pork Food Poisoning Symptoms: Second Phase
The second stage is called the muscle stage or parenteral phase (2 – 8 weeks after infection). From the digestive tract, the roundworms migrate to other tissues and blood vessels, causing symptoms like:
- Swelling around the eyes
- Muscle pain
- Generalized itching
- Splinter hemorrhages in nails
Prevention of food poisoning from pork is possible, provided that you take certain care while buying pork meat and cooking the same. One of the simple tips concerning prevention is avoiding outside foods containing pork meat. While preparing pork dishes, purchase superior quality meat and make sure that its internal temperature reaches 165°F, at least for 15 seconds. Never eat pork that is left overnight at room temperature. Last but not the least, maintain hygiene in the kitchen to avoid cross contamination.
The course for mild poisoning may last for as long as 2 months, starting from the day of consuming contaminated pork. In severe cases, the worms may spread to the central nervous system and cause life-threatening problems. If left untreated, fatalities may occur within 4 – 6 weeks of roundworm infection. Nevertheless, getting appropriate therapeutic help will help in minimizing the length of trichinosis disease and reducing medical complications.