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Argentina notes downward trend in Trichinella outbreaks

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Argentinian authorities have published a report they hope will increase understanding of the Trichinella situation in the country.

The National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA) report analyzed Trichinellosis reports between 2010 and 2019. Trichinellosis, or trichinosis, is a disease people can get by eating raw or undercooked meat from animals infected with the parasite Trichinella.

Trichinellosis is endemic in Argentina with the focus in several places, mainly in the Central region, matching distribution of the country’s pig production, and in the mountain region of Neuquén, where it is mostly associated with cases in the wild and hunting of boar.

Seasonality is marked with a peak in winter, which is important when planning mitigation strategies, such as dissemination of information and prevention campaigns.

Trichinellosis in humans is a notifiable, also called reportable, event. According to data from the Ministry of Health, for 2014 to 2019, there were 5,875 cases reported. The highest year was 2015 with more than 1,400 infections. In 2019, about 600 cases were recorded.

Managing outbreaks
SENASA officials said working together with all those involved in the chain of notification allows the origin of any outbreak to be found sooner, which can prevent more people from being affected.

In Argentina, the main source of infection for humans is pigs but some cases are linked to wild boar, puma or meats of other animals often used in sausages. Habits of keeping and slaughtering pigs at home for personal consumption or informal sale without proper controls on hygiene and feeding are ideal for the spread of the parasite.

In 2010 to 2019, there were 509 alerts issued for trichinellosis reported. Of these, 476 were registered as outbreaks in animals or people with 11 percent related to outbreaks in humans.

The year with the most confirmed outbreaks was 2016 with 73. The number of outbreaks rose from 2010 to 2016 but has started to decline again to about 40 in 2019.

The province with the highest number of reported trichinellosis events was Buenos Aires with 274 in the 10 years analyzed. It is followed by the province of Neuquén with 92 outbreaks then San Luis, Córdoba, La Pampa, Rio Negro and Santa Fe.

Regarding the time between onset of outbreaks and notification to SENASA, 92 percent of the notices were made within a week of the outbreak. The maximum time was 244 days. SENASA responded to 99 percent of the alerts within a week of notification.

Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and abdominal discomfort are often the first symptoms of infection. Headaches, fevers, chills, cough, swelling of the face and eyes, aching joints and muscle pains, itchy skin, diarrhea, or constipation may follow. Patients may have difficulty coordinating movements, and heart and breathing problems.

Most symptoms go away within a few months. Abdominal symptoms can occur one to two days after infection. Further symptoms usually start two to eight weeks after eating contaminated meat. Freezing, curing (salting), drying, smoking, or microwaving meat may not kill the organism. The best way to prevent trichinellosis is to cook meat to a safe temperature, which is 71 degrees C (160 degrees F).

Authorities seize meat and lemons
Meanwhile, officials at a control post in Rio Colorado in the Rio Negro province have prevented more than 8,000 kilograms of bovine meat from entering the town of Choele Choel.

Officers made the discovery during a routine check on a trailer. They found part of the cargo from the village of La Adela in La Pampa was expired, potentially putting public health at risk. The products without sanitary documentation were seized and destroyed.

In late January, SENASA also helped prevent consumption of 300 kilograms of lemons. The fruits were transported without complying with hygiene and sanitary conditions and were missing the correct documents. The merchandise was detected during a routine inspection of a truck coming from the town of El Dorado in the province of Misiones to the central market of Buenos Aires.

In mid-January, SENASA seized and destroyed more than 360 kilos of meat. The expired products were being moved from San Justo in Buenos Aires to the city of Río Gallegos in Santa Cruz. The cargo consisted of different cuts of boneless beef, frozen chicken and sausages. During the inspection a label was found that indicated some of the items had an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2020.

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