It is a foodborne illness that occurs from ingesting undercooked meat. Diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and facial swelling are some of the symptoms of trichinosis.
What happens when improperly cooked meat is consumed? Well, the person will soon be diagnosed with a parasitic infection known as trichinosis. Consuming raw or poorly cooked meat of wild animals like pork, bear, fox, and rodents increases the risk of getting infected with larvae of Trichinella spiralis (roundworms). Fortunately, the infection is rarely diagnosed in the United States, thanks to high quality standards maintained in processing meat. Nevertheless, let us have a look at them.
Symptoms of this foodborne illness may or may not appear depending upon how severe the parasitic infection is. Absence or barely noticeable symptoms indicate that the infection is a minor issue. However, this is not the case, when large amount of larvae have been ingested. Being intestinal invaders, the larvae first affect the intestinal tract. The larvae feed on the food that is absorbed into the intestine. This enables them to grow into adult roundworms and the symptoms that follow are given below:
The parasites, upon reaching the intestinal tract colonize the area and disrupt healthy bowel function. These intestinal parasites trigger diarrhea, a condition that is typically marked by loose watery stools. It may also cause inflammation of the intestinal tract, leading to abdominal pain. The abdominal discomfort may aggravate at the time of bowel evacuation.
The patient may develop nauseating feeling soon after consuming the infected foodstuffs. In case, nausea becomes unbearable, it can lead to vomiting, which not only causes dehydration but also reduces appetite.
When the parasites spread to other parts of the body (about 2-7 weeks after the onset of infection) such as muscle tissues and joint fluids, patients are often seen complaining about muscle aches, joint pain and inflammation. In case, the parasites invade the breathing muscles, the process of inhaling and exhaling air becomes a painful activity. If trichinosis is not treated, deep breathing can trigger muscle pain. Simple activities like talking and chewing can also be a cause of great discomfort.
This roundworm in humans can also raise the body temperature. High fever indicates a severe infestation of parasites.
Development of rashes have also been linked to roundworm parasitic infection in humans. The rash formed remains confined to a specific area. Skin rash associated with trichinosis may disappear after some time and reappear at some other place.
As the parasites move to different tissue of the body, the patient may experience fatigue that does not go away easily. Even moderate level physical activity can make a person exhausted. Apart from fatigue, the person may experience overall weakness, making it difficult to carry out mundane routine.
This parasitic infection may cause swelling that is distinctly visible on the face. More specifically, the eyelids appear swollen. Swollen face around the eyes is considered to be a diagnostic symptom of trichinosis infection.
Patients affected with this parasitic infection may become sensitive towards light. In addition to sensitivity to light, the person may develop eye problems like conjunctivitis.
Being a roundworm infection, the doctors are likely to prescribe anti-parasite drugs. The medication that usually works to relieve patient’s woes is mebendazole. Besides mebendazole, taking painkillers may also help to reduce muscle aches. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to decrease the inflammation. The recovery period may last anywhere between a few months to several months, depending upon the severity of the infection.
Going by the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’, one would be keen to know about the measures that could help to prevent the occurrence of trichinosis. The simplest solution is to cook the meat thoroughly. One should not be in a hurry when it comes to cooking meat, and should ensure that a temperature of a minimum 140 degree Fahrenheit is maintained while cooking meat.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.