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Outdoor Term of the Week: Trichinosis

Let’s learn about the parasitic disease trichinosis. 

Are you ready for a science lesson? The term of the week this week is a bit unsettling, so make sure you aren’t eating.

If you enjoy wild game, then chances are you’ve heard of trichinosis. This parasite is essentially roundworms and is caused by eating undercooked, infected meat. If you ingest infected meat, a large burden of worms then live either inside or on top of your intestines, depending on what phase the parasite is in.

If symptoms of trichinosis do occur, they usually consist of nausea, heartburn, dyspepsia and diarrhea. A tell-tale sign of trichinosis is swelling around the eyes and hemorrhaging under the nail beds. If the worms enter your central nervous system, however, they can cause significant neurological damage.

Animals get trichinosis from eating infected meat. If humans do not cook their meat thoroughly, the trichinosis cysts are then ingested. Most bear meat is infected with trichinosis. Steven Rinella knows all about contracting trichinosis from bear meat.


Trichinosis used to be much more common in the U.S. before the U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibited feeding animal meat to commercially-raised pigs. It can be cured with antibiotics and in more severe cases, steroids in order to halt the larvae migration process. There are currently no vaccines for trichinosis so make sure you cook your meat thoroughly before ingesting. The trichiosis worm also resists freezing so don’t expect to kill the infection by throwing your meat into the freezer. Cook your meat thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rinella says he doesn’t even bother getting his bears tested anymore in his book “Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter.”

I just assume that they’re infected and then proceed with caution.

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Outdoor Term of the Week: Trichinosis