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Trichinosis - How Common Is The Disease?

Trichinosis is a disease of man and other animals caused by a tiny parasitic worm, Trichinella spiralis. Humans may be infected by eating the meat of infected domestic pigs, wild bears, wild pigs, or walruses. Over the last decade, between 100 and 150 human cases per year are reported in the United States. Many cases go undetected with less than 1% of the cases clinically diagnosed. An estimated 10 to 15 million people in the United States have been infected with trichinosis. An estimated 1.5 million Americans carry the parasite, and between 150,000 and 300,000 new infections occur each year.

Wild hogs are more likely to be infected with trichina than domestic hogs, although tests conducted in the Southeastern United States by the Southeast Wildlife Research Laboratory indicated very few cases of infection in wild hogs. Domestic pork still carries a significant risk. Although only about 0.125% of all slaughter pigs are infected, this still represents about 40 million potential meal exposures each year because of the huge production of domestic pork in this country.

What are the symptoms of infection?
Trichinosis can produce a very misleading collection of symptoms. Depending upon the number of larvae ingested, infection can range from mild to severe; it can even result in death. Mild infections usually involve upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. In the more severe infections, the patient may also experience swelling of the upper eyelids, muscular pain, fever, headache, exhaustion, sore eyes and throat, hemorrhages under the skin, and difficult breathing.

How can I be sure wild boar meat is safe to eat?
Recommended final cooking temperatures for pork vary considerably. USDA meat inspection requires that all processed pork products may be eaten without additional cooking if they are cooked to an internal temperature of at least 137°F to assure destruction of any trichinae larvae that may be present. To provide a margin of safety, a final temperature of cooked pork should reach 160 to 170°F. Fresh pork less than 6 inches thick can be rendered safe if frozen to 5°F for 20 days, -10°F for 10 days, or -20°F for 6 days.  All Broken Arrow Ranch wild boar products have been frozen for 20 days at 0°F.