Trichinellosis: symptoms, cases in France, treatment

Trichinellosis is a zoonosis caused by the parasite Trichinella, which is transmitted from animals to humans through the consumption of contaminated meat. Rare disease, about 20 cases have been registered in France in 20 years. Focus with Isabelle Vallée, Head of the Parasitic Molecular Biology and Immunology Unit (BIPAR).

Definition: What is trichinellosis?

Trichinellosis is one zoonosisthat is, a disease in which the causative agent is transmitted from animals to humans by taking meat contaminated with a worm, Trichinella, mainly the Pork or wild boar meat and more exceptionally horse meat. A rather rare disease in France, the parasite is more common in the countries of Eastern Europe Balkans, Poland or Romania.

How many cases of trichinellosis in France?

According to the National Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Safety (ANSES), in France the parasite is concentrated in areas of high biodiversity, mainly in mountainous regions of southern France. “There has been one in the last twenty years twenty cases Indigenous due to consumption of contaminated meat, primarily wild boar“, explains Isabelle Vallée, head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Parasitic Immunology (BIPAR) at the Animal Health Laboratory of ANSES.Around two animals per year test positive to the parasite.”

What are the symptoms of trichinellosis?

Animals usually carry the parasite in some way asymptomatic in her muscles. In most cases the symptoms in men develop according to the evolution of the parasitic cycle and the area of ​​the body where it is found:
► In the first week, the parasite is released into the intestinal mucosa and this causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and sometimes Vomit.
► Then the parasite migrates into the muscles speaks Lymph and blood vessels and this produces a Fever high, visual disturbancesa facial edemal which can also be generalized and myalgia (Muscle cramp).

The parasite affects many wild animals, but also humans because it is transmitted by Eating contaminated meat raw or uncooked. The disease is due to this Parasite Trichinella spiralisa species of nematode, worms of 1.5 mm for the male and 2 to 3 mm for the female. Worms grow inside their host and the ingested larvae will grow up within 24 to 36 hours at the level of the mucosa of the small intestine. Once the parasite is installed, the adult worms mate and produce larvae that migrate from the gut to the muscles, where they can lodge and live for several years. Muscle larvae are microscopic (approx. 0.8 mm) and are therefore not visible in the flesh with the naked eye.

Regarding meat, you should know that European and international regulations (EU Regulation 2015/1375, OIE, CODEX Alimentarius) require it slaughterhouse control Pork and other sensitive species (wild boar, horse) to diagnose the parasite thanks to muscle samples. Isabelle Vallée wants to calm down: “All marketed meat is of a susceptible species systematically tested by veterinary services so there is nothing to worry about.“As for the man a clinical examination allows the doctor to get an idea of ​​​​the origin of the pathology if the patient claims to have eaten game meat. “Usually these are not isolated cases, but rather grouped cases – family, friends, wedding guests – all gathering around the same food source.“Secondly, Serological tests But the tests are carried out Enzyme Immunoassay ELISA then confirmed by the Western blot test confirm further infection. A muscle biopsy can also be done, but results are not always reliable when infection is minor.

What is the treatment for trichinellosis?

“By the time the diagnosis is made, the parasite is already installed in the muscles and stays there for years.warns Isabelle Vallee, and there is none no treatment to remove it.“However, anthelmintics (worm control) benzimidazoles (known as nematocides) coupled with corticosteroids can be effective for reduce the parasitic load residues in the intestine, reduce symptoms and improve the patient’s living conditions.

Sufficient cooking of meat is thorough cooking at 71°C

Sanitary controls are normally carried out systematically at the slaughterhouse on marketed cultured meat. But on an individual level it is strong Hunters advised to have the meat checked by departmental veterinary laboratories (list available on the Ministry of Agriculture website). Hunters can also contact their hunting association, which can tell them what instructions they need to have. “If you cannot have your meat examined, you have to cook it well.” Sufficient cooking of the meat is ideal fully cooked at 71 °C. “This heart boiling, formerly known by hunters, to kill all pathogens actually leads to the death of the parasite‘ confirms Isabelle Vallee.

Thanks to Isabelle Vallée, Head of the Parasitic Molecular Biology and Immunology (BIPAR) Unit at the ANSES Animal Health Laboratory (Maisons-Alfort).

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