Two people have been diagnosed with trichinellosis after eating undercooked wild boar meat in France.

The animal was killed during a hunt on Dec. 8, 2020, in the Pyrénées-Orientales region. The two hunters from Vallespir fell ill in January this year.

Trichinellosis, or trichinosis, is an illness people can get by eating raw or undercooked meat from animals infected with the parasite Trichinella. It is a notifiable disease, also known as reportable, in France.

French authorities described the current situation in certain parts of the country as worrying because of the circulation of the parasite. This was because of the increase in wild boar populations, changing culinary habits and the lack of sufficient controls on wild boar meat killed during hunting and not sent to a game handling establishment.

Trichinella control
Legislation requires pigs and horses to be searched for Trichinella larvae to minimize the risk of contamination. It also expects samples to be taken before any wild boar meat is placed on the market.

There is an exemption to this sampling in national regulation if certain game meat goes directly from the hunter to the final consumer in small quantities, although it is recommended. Information on the risks associated with Trichinella and thorough cooking is still mandatory.

In 2017, 15 European countries reported 224 cases of trichinellosis, of which 168 were confirmed. Incidence in France is low, with only 68 infections from 2001 to 2016. Of these, 38 were related to eating infected meat abroad or that was illegally imported.

Initial symptoms of infection are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and abdominal discomfort. Headaches, fevers, chills, cough, swelling of the face and eyes, aching joints and muscle pains, itchy skin, diarrhea or constipation may follow. Patients may have difficulty coordinating movements, and heart and breathing problems.

Most symptoms go away within a few months. Abdominal symptoms can occur one to two days after infection. Further symptoms usually start two to eight weeks after eating contaminated meat. Freezing, curing or salting, drying, smoking, or microwaving meat may not kill the organism. The best way to prevent trichinellosis is to cook meat to a temperature of 71 degrees C (160 degrees F).

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