Trichinellosis in Developing Countries: is it Neglected?

It is time to recognise the severity of this food-borne parasitic diseases and provide the resources to find a solution to a controllable situation where the disease occurs, according to Dr Bruschi of the University of Pisa.
calendar icon 21 March 2012
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Trichinellosis is a foodborne zoonosis caused by the parasitic nematode Trichinella, which is characterized by an extremely wide host range and geographical distribution, according to Fabrizio Bruschi of the University of Pisa in Italy.

In a paper published in the Journal of Infection in Developing Countries, he explains that the aim of his review is to provide epidemiological information on animal and human trichinellosis occurring in developing countries in the different continents, where cooking habits along with poverty and poor sanitary conditions and lack of veterinary controls may facilitate the occurrence of human trichinellosis outbreaks.

Countries were considered according to the six regions designated by the World Health Organization (WHO): 1) WHO African Region, 2) WHO Region of the Americas, 3) WHO South-East Asia Region, 4) WHO European Region, 5) WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, and 6) WHO Western Pacific Region. For the purposes of this article, developing countries are defined as those not industrialised according to the World Economic Outlook Report of the International Monetary Fund. However, with regard to the European Region of WHO, only those countries that are not member states of the European Union were considered.

In his conclusions, Dr Bruschi says that trichinellosis has declined significantly as a zoonosis, particularly in developed countries where a reduction of the domestic cycle was observed in the last decades. It remains, however, a potential risk because of the still existing presence of most species of Trichinella in wild animals. In fact, a large biomass of the parasite continues to exist in developing countries of Central and South America, Europe and Asia, where the human population movement from the country is increasing. This important demographic factor is responsible for trichinellosis emergence in some urban areas in China where affluence has increased the demand for pork, particularly in dishes such as meat dumplings, which by tradition may not be well cooked. On the other hand, states the author, in sub-Saharan Africa, despite the presence of the parasite in many wild animal species, human outbreaks are rare. One reason may be adherence to ethnic habits.

However, infection may also derive from the consumption of meat from several different animals, including armadillo, badger, black and brown bears, cougar, dog, fox, horse, jackal, monitor lizard, squirrel, turtle, walrus, warthog.

Human behaviour remains the most important factor responsible for the persistence of trichinellosis in many geographical areas where it – along with adequate regulations aimed to guarantee meat safety – are neglected, concludes Dr Bruschi. He stresses that it is time to recognise the severity of food-borne parasitic diseases and provide the funds, capacity, and human resources to find a solution to a controllable situation.


Bruschi F. 2012. Trichinellosis in developing countries: is it neglected? J Infect Dev Ctries. 6(3):216-222.

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March 2012
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