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Cessation of Trichinella spiralis Transmission Among Scavenging Mammals After the Removal of Infected Pigs From a Poorly Managed Farm: Implications for Trichinae Transmission in the US


D. E. Hill. Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Building 1044, BARC-East, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350, USA. Tel.: 301-504-8770;
Fax: 301-504-5558;


Pigs infected with the zoonotic parasite Trichinella spiralis were detected on a farm in Maryland during an animal welfare investigation. Sera and/or tissues were collected from 49 pigs and three pig carcasses (7 weeks of age to adult, mixed sex). The tissues were tested for the presence of T. spiralis muscle larvae (ML) by tissue digestion, and the sera were tested for the presence of anti-Trichinella antibodies by ELISA. Seventeen of 50 (34%) pigs were infected with T. spiralis based on tissue digestion. Of these 17 pigs, sera were collected from 16; nine were serologically positive, three sera had OD values that were very close to the positive cut-off (0.30), but were still negative, and four were negative (suggesting that they had become infected within a few weeks of testing). All pigs that tested negative by tissue digestion for ML were also ELISA negative. The farm was subsequently depopulated of pigs. Six months later, testing of trapped scavenging mammals in the farm environment demonstrated that 41% were infected with T. spiralis. After 12 months, 10% of trapped animals were T. spiralis positive, and after 18 months, T. spiralis could not be detected in the scavenging mammal population surrounding the farm. Results of the study suggest that T. spiralis, typically transmitted in the peridomestic rat–pig–human cycle in the US, was not maintained in scavenging mammals in the absence of infected pigs.

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