Almost 600 possible Trichinella infections have been recorded in an Argentinian province so far this year.

Health officials in Buenos Aires reported 582 suspected cases, of which 248 are confirmed, 27 are probable and 304 remain under study.

Six trichinosis (or trichinellosis) outbreaks have been recorded with five of them being small. However, one has affected at least a dozen municipalities with 478 cases, including 218 confirmed.

Five outbreaks were due to consumption of products after domestic slaughter, while the largest incident has been linked to contaminated commercially available products.

Health officials said meat intended for private consumption should be subject to a post-mortem veterinary inspection and lab analysis to ensure it is safe.

Trichinosis is transmitted by eating raw or undercooked pork contaminated with the parasite Trichinella.

Warnings in another province

Elsewhere in the country, the Ministry of Health has announced outbreaks of trichinosis in two locations in the province of Córdoba.

The first outbreak, involving four sick people, was recorded in the municipality of Sampacho and was linked to food prepared at home.

In the second outbreak, the town of Deán Funes, in the Ischilín region, was identified as the probable purchase place for contaminated food that has sickened four people. Products are believed to have been bought commercially.

Patients were treated in different healthcare centers in the province and are all now in good health. Based on epidemiological interviews, consumption of meat was identified in both outbreaks.

Health officials urged people not to consume raw meat or homemade sausages that had not been inspected and to check the label on all pork products purchased for the brand, manufacturing company, authorization number, production and expiry date, and storage conditions.

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 have heart and breathing problems.

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 trichinosis is to cook meat to a temperature of 71 degrees C (160 degrees F).

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)