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Disorder caused by the roundworm trichina, commonly acquired from undercooked infested pork. Larval worms invade the small intestine, maturing within a week. Fertilized females deposit new larvae, which are carried by the blood, notably to the muscles (most often the diaphragm, eyes, throat, and tongue), where they encapsulate and may remain alive for years. Though trichinosis usually eventually subsides, it may be fatal if the heart and brain are involved. Few infected persons have sufficient parasites to produce symptoms (including diarrhea, nausea, and fever, followed by pain, stiffness, and swelling of various muscular structures). Anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve symptoms; thiabendazole may effectively destroy parasites in the intestine. There is no practical way to detect trichinous pork; the surest safeguard remains thorough cooking.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on trichinosis, visit Britannica.com.