The Diagnosis of Trichinosis

James B. McNaughtDepartment of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, San Francisco

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  1. 1. While morbidity statistics indicate that less than 3 people per 100,000 suffer from trichinosis annually, the examination of cadavers proves that about 400 people per 100,000 are infected annually. It is therefore evident that physicians are not so skillful in recognizing this infection as they are in diagnosing many other diseases.
  2. 2. The number of parasites ingested, the physical condition of the patient and the specific tissues most heavily invaded must play important rôles in the severity of trichinous infection.
  3. 3. Attention is called to the “splinter hemorrhages” seen beneath the nails of patients during the migrating stage of trichinosis.
  4. 4. The finding of parasites in blood, bile, stool, cerebrospinal fluid or biopsy is possible but the diagnosis may be made without recovering the parasites from the patient. Eosinophilia is the most useful clue. Skin and precipitin tests establish that the eosinophilia is due to trichinella invasion rather than to some other cause.