A Study to Demonstrate Freedom from Trichinella spp. in Domestic Pigs in Switzerland


M. E. Schuppers. SAFOSO, Bremgartenstrasse 109A, 3012 Bern, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 31 631 2937; Fax: +41 31 631 2932; E-mail: manon.schuppers@safoso.ch


Trichinellosis is a food-borne zoonotic disease caused by the nematode Trichinella spp. Many omnivorous and carnivorous animal species can act as host for this parasite, including domestic pigs. To protect public health, it should be ensured that pork should not contain infective Trichinella larvae. Surveillance for Trichinella spp. can be done using direct (larval detection) and indirect (antibody detection) diagnostic techniques. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the absence of infection in Swiss domestic pigs. An ELISA was used as the initial screening test, and sera reacting in ELISA were further investigated using both a Western blot for serology and an artificial digestion test with 20 g of diaphragm tissue for larval detection. A total of 7412 adult pigs, 9973 finishing pigs and 2779 free-ranging pigs were tested. Samples from 17 (0.23%) adult pigs, 16 (0.16%) finishing pigs and nine (0.32%) free-ranging pigs were ELISA-positive, but all of these sera were subsequently negative by Western blot and by the artificial digestion method. Based on these findings, an absence of Trichinella infections in adult pigs (target prevalence 0.04%) and finishing pigs (target prevalence 0.03%) can be concluded. The results also demonstrated that the prevalence of Trichinella infections does not exceed 0.11% in free-ranging pigs, the group with the highest risk of exposure.