Parasite found in home killed meat

12 September 2001

The parasite, trichinella spiralis has been found in a home killed pig on a farm in Whangamata.

Two people have recently been hospitalised with symptoms suspected to be trichinosis. Pig meat consumed by the two people has tested positive for Trichinella spiralis, the cause of trichinosis.

The suspected cases involve the farmer and his neighbour, both from Whangamata. They both consumed meat from a domestic pig slaughtered at the farm and butchered by a local butcher. Trichinosis is a notifiable disease.

People can contract Trichinosis through eating home kill or feral pigs, which have not been thoroughly cooked. The symptoms can take up to eight weeks to show after eating contaminated or undercooked meat. Symptoms can include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal discomfort to muscle pains, aching joints and itchy skin. Trichinosis can be prevented by ensuring pork is well cooked.

Anyone who is concerned they may have eaten contaminated pork or are showing symptoms of the disease should contact their GP.

Home killed meat can be used for the private consumption of the farmer only. A surveillance programme monitors commercially produced pork sold in New Zealand, with all feral meat being tested prior to export. MAF advises consumers that meat of any type should be brought only from reputable commercial operators, who will be selling inspected product.

The affected farm has been declared a Restricted Place under the Biosecurity Act, which prevents the movement of live pigs and pig meat off the property. Leftover meat has been impounded.

All pigs on the property will be tested and restrictions will remain on the property until it has been completely de-stocked. Tracing movements of live pigs and pig meat from the restricted property is being undertaken by MAF, as is surveillance in feral rats and cats on the property in an attempt to determine where the infection has come from.

Trichinella spiralis is a nematode parasite transmitted between pigs, rats, cats and sometimes humans by consumption of meat from infected animals. The parasite is considered to be present at low levels in feral animals in New Zealand. Modern pig farming methods ensure infection of domestic pigs is a rare event, and the parasite can be tested for when pigs are commercially slaughtered.

Human cases typically result from consumption of home kill or feral pigs.

The last confirmed case of trichinosis in pigs in New Zealand was in 1997, which was also associated with home killed pigs.

Points of contact have been set up to provide further information for the public if they are concerned and want further information. These are:

  • The MAF Emergency Disease and Pest Hotline on 0800-809-966
  • The Health Waikato Public Health Unit on 07-838-2569

For media information contact:

  • Dr Matthew Stone, Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Disease Response, MAF Biosecurity Authority on N/A84
  • Judy Barker, Programme Manager, Risk Management Programmes, MAF Food Assurance Authority on 04-474-4270
  • Angus Davidson, CEO Pork Industry Board on 027-438-8222
  • Dr Dell Hood, Medical Officer of Health, Waikato District Health Board on 07-838-2569

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33