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Health Risks of Eating Raw Ground Pork

by
author image April Khan
April Khan is a medical journalist who began writing in 2005. She has contributed to publications such as "BBC Focus." In 2012, Khan received her Doctor of Public Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She also holds an Associate of Arts from the Art Institute of Dallas and a Master of Science in international health from University College London.
Health Risks of Eating Raw Ground Pork
Cooking pork on a barbecue grill. Photo Credit Farion_O/iStock/Getty Images

Eating raw meat, including pork, can increase your risk of developing a roundworm infection. Pork, if not cooked thoroughly, carries the risk of infecting you with trichinosis. Cook your pork until the pink is no longer visible to avoid this infection.

Trichinosis

Trichinosis, a food-borne illness, is caused by eating meat that contains trichinella spiralis. This disease -- found in pork, fox, bear, horse and lion meat -- causes roundworm infections worldwide, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Once the infected meat is ingested, trichinella cysts break open, allowing roundworms to grow in the intestines. Due to strict USDA guidelines, domestic meat is considered safe, though annually there are approximately 40 cases of trichinosis.

Symptoms

Symptoms of trichinosis are abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, fever, facial swelling, muscle pain, muscle weakness, cramping and pain with breathing. Tests that will be given to diagnose trichinosis include a complete blood count, creatine kinase level test and muscle biopsy.

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Treatment

Treatment for trichinosis in the intestines includes administering the medication mebendazole or labendazole. These anti-worm medications kill parasites and treat roundworm infections. These medications -- which often come in chewable tablets -- are used twice per day for three days. The National Center for Biotechnology Information states that the treatment may have to be repeated in two to three weeks. Roundworm cysts in the muscles cannot be treated using this medication and only pain medication may be given to relieve muscle soreness due to the cysts.

Considerations

Only eat fully cooked ground pork. If you have eaten ground pork that is undercooked, raw or contaminated, contact your physician immediately. Smoking, salting or drying pork are not effective ways to get rid of roundworms.

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