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Trichinosis is caused by an intestinal roundworm, Trichinella spiralis, which typically infects wild mammals, such as bears, cougars, and wild boar, or domestic pigs. Human infection results from eating undercooked pork or wild game harboring the encapsulated cysts of T. spiralis. Encysted larvae survive some preparation methods for wild meat jerky, and some strains resist freezing. The larvae may infect persons if the meat is consumed without further cooking.

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Trichinosis in King County

Purpose of surveillance:

  • To identify common source exposures
  • To identify and eliminate infected food products in order to prevent further consumption

Local epidemiology:

One trichinosis case was reported in 2015 in an adult who had consumed wild-caught snake; the infection required hospitalization.

One confirmed and one probable case of trichinosis were reported in 2014. Both cases were adults who were not hospitalized. One was exposed by consuming contaminated bear meat outside of King County. The source for the other case was not identified. Prior to 2014, the last case of trichinosis in King County occurred in 2000 and was attributed to consumption of homemade cougar jerky.