Trichinellosis in the United States, 1991-1996: declining but not gone.

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  • 1 Laboratory Animal Resources, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27606, USA.

Since the U.S. Public Health Service began recording statistics on trichinellosis in 1947, the number of cases reported by state health departments has decreased steadily. In the late 1940s, health departments reported an average of 400 cases and 10-15 deaths each year. From 1991 to 1996, the period covered in this report, three deaths in 230 cases were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (an average of 38 cases per year), including 14 multiple case outbreaks from 31 states and Washington, DC. Information on the suspected food item was available for 134 (58%) of the 230 reported cases. Pork was implicated in 80 (60%) cases, bear meat in 31 (23%), walrus meat in 13 (10%), and cougar meat in 10 (7%). Sausage was the most frequently implicated pork product (i.e., 57 of the 64 cases for which the form of the pork product was identified). The proportion of trichinellosis cases attributable to consumption of commercial pork continued to decrease; this decrease was probably due to a combination of factors, including the continued reduction in the prevalence of Trichinella spiralis in domestic swine, the increased use of home freezers, and the practice of thoroughly cooking pork. As a proportion of all cases reported, those associated with wild game meat products has increased; however, the absolute numbers of such cases have remained similar at approximately 9-12 per year. The continued multiple case outbreaks and the identification of nonpork sources of infection indicate the need for further education and control measures.