A number of Argentinian provinces have recently reported human outbreaks of trichinellosis.

Trichinellosis, or trichinosis, is an illness people can get by eating raw or undercooked meat from animals infected with the parasite Trichinella. It is often found in pork products.

In the province of Buenos Aires, eight cases of trichinosis have been confirmed in the town of Cañuelas with another five probable. Several seizures of products that did not have the correct origin information were made by authorities. A number of people have also been affected in the city of Chacabuco after eating sausages.

Public advice
Officials in Chascomus, also in Buenos Aires, reported some infections in the city. The Ministry of Public Health advised residents to take care when purchasing or consuming products made with pork.

People were told to only eat sausages with clear information on the origin that are prepared in authorized establishments. If they are homemade, it was important that the raw material had been analyzed and sanitary controls followed.

In August, a positive result of trichinosis was found in one of the animals at a pig farm followed by confirmation of a positive test from a sample from a patient.

In the province of Córdoba, 19 cases were registered in the town of Villa del Totoral and three in the city of Córdoba.

People received care from different health centers. From patient interviews, a link was identified between illness and consumption of pork meat products bought in shops in Villa del Totoral.

Authorities seized about 800 kilos of sausages and cuts of pork in a store in Villa del Totoral because of a lack of traceability documents.

National involvement
The outbreak investigation team includes the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the National Service of Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA).

In August, 17 people were infected by the parasite which led to an alert in the town of Piquillín, in Río Primero which had the most cases and Villa del Rosario in Río Segundo where two people were affected. Most sick people ate salami or chorizo.

Officials sent 90 pigs to controlled slaughter that were raised in poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions after an inspection of farms in Piquillín. Animals negative for the parasite were allowed to be sold.

There are no vaccines or treatments for live animals so prevention consists of maintaining hygiene during pig rearing and carrying out a test after slaughter and before preparing and consuming sausages. The parasite can live in cuts of pork meat as well as in sausages. Pigs carrying the parasite do not show clinical signs and their meat doesn’t change in appearance, color, smell or taste.

Initial symptoms of infection in people 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.

Symptoms can last 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 parasites. The best way to prevent trichinellosis is to cook meat to a temperature of 71 degrees C (160 degrees F).

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