Researchers have called for better education of consumers and a change in the rules following a Trichinella outbreak from wild boar meat.

An outbreak of trichinellosis due to consumption of sausage made from wild boar meat that was not examined for Trichinella was reported in Poland in December 2020. Eight people from three families were affected, according to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Patients were family and friends of the hunter who had given them the homemade raw Polish sausage. Six men and two women aged from 19 to 58 were sick. People who consumed the same meat but in the form of steamed sausage did not have any symptoms of Trichinella infection.

Sausages were produced at the beginning of autumn 2020 by the hunter. The product was smoked but the core temperature did not exceed 35 degrees C (95 degrees F).

Untested meat
The hunter initially said sausages were made of roe deer meat, and later claimed he used wild boar meat that had been tested for Trichinella in the veterinary laboratory in Leszno. However, the lab had no records of such samples.

Examination of suspected sausage samples were positive for Trichinella. In the first sample, 34 larvae per gram were detected, and 54 larvae per gram in the second but all were dead. Further analysis confirmed the presence of Trichinella spiralis.

According to data from the Polish National Public Health Institute, between 2016 and 2020, 37 cases of trichinellosis were registered.

Researchers said the outbreak shows the need for better education on food safety among hunters and consumers.

“It also highlights the gaps in food control of meat derived from wild animals. The existing legal basis allows for the carcass of a wild boar to be taken from the hunting ground for one’s own needs. It seems there is an urgent need for changes at the local level that will prevent this type of practice. In areas endemic for Trichinella, it should be necessary to test for the presence of Trichinella in meat before handing over the boar, even if it is only for the hunter’s own needs.”

First signs of the disease may occur one to three days after consuming infected meat and are usually mild with abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. After two or more weeks, the typical signs for Trichinella infection appear and can include fever, headache, swelling of the face, aching joints and muscle pains and itchy skin.

Italian outbreak
Another study, in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, has described the largest trichinellosis outbreak ever registered in the Piedmont region of Italy.

Researchers included 96 outpatients referred to a hospital in Torino in December 2019 and January 2020 after consuming raw sausages from a wild boar hunted near the village of Chiomonte, in the Susa Valley, in November 2019.

Trichinella britovi was confirmed in 48 patients. Two required hospitalization but none suffered serious consequences.

Most likely, patients were infected after eating meat from a single animal, due to the low prevalence of Trichinella in wild boars in the area, said researchers. Only one wild boar has tested positive for Trichinella in Torino since official active surveillance started in 2013.

“This outbreak should raise attention on the preventive key role of epidemiological veterinary surveillance, and the need to optimize sampling procedures and targeted health education,” said scientists.

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