Trichinella life cycle: signs of a parasite in the human body and treatment of the disease

Infection with an intestinal parasite threatens a person not only with a deterioration in well-being, but also with serious negative consequences for the health of the body. Having learned the information on how the life cycle of the round Trichinella worm proceeds, at what stage and how it can enter the body, you can take simple preventative measures and prevent parasitic invasion.

What is Trichinella

The parasitic worm Trichinella spiralis (Trichinella Spiralis) belongs to the class of nematodes (roundworms) that infect the muscle tissue of large vertebrates. Helminth is a pathogen of a disease pathogen for humans - trichinosis. The parasite was first discovered in the 19th century, at the moment 8 species of trichinella are known that can infect domestic and wild animals (pigs, horses, foxes, wolves, bears and others), as well as birds and small rodents. Cases of trichinosis incidence recorded in 55 countries.

The life cycle of Trichinella occurs in the body of one host, where the larva enters the food way, with infected meat. The growth of the helminth population is supported by wild animals feeding on each other, domestic animals (mainly pigs) become infected with infected meat or in contact with sick rodents. The most common locations for larvae are:

  • chewing striated muscles;
  • muscles of the orbits;
  • diaphragmatic muscles;
  • muscles of the shoulders, neck, lumbar region.

Size and shape

Trichinella is a small round worm - the length of the female is 2.5-3 mm, the male is 1.5-2 mm. The body shape is spiral, with a diameter of about 0.5-1 mm. Helminths are able to twist and unwind, especially in the front of the body, which is covered with a layer of hypoderm and a cuticle made of fibrillar collagen protein, which protects the parasite from the immune response of the host organism. The head of a mature individual is provided with an oral cavity, which passes into the esophagus and further into the intestine with digestive glands located on its muscle walls.

The worm has sensory organs - mechanoreceptors for tracking movement and chemoreceptors for identifying chemicals. Representatives of this type of helminths are heterosexual, copulation (multiplication of protozoa by the fusion of two gametes) occurs sexually. Females of the nematode are viviparous (do not lay eggs), therefore almost the entire internal space of their body is occupied by the uterus, in which over one thousand larvae develop over a period of one or two months.

Trichinella development cycle

The life cycle of Trichinella passes within the body of one host. Invasion (infection) can occur only by food, Trichinella larvae enter infected digestive tract larvae in the form of cysts, the protective membrane of which dissolves under the influence of gastric juice. Caught in the intestine and fixed on the walls of the intestines with the help of a special stylet, after several links the nematode individual develops in 4-6 days into a sexually mature worm, ready for reproduction.

Parasites multiply in the walls of the small intestine, the life cycle of an adult sexually mature individual is from 4 to 6 weeks. During this period, the female can produce about 1.5 thousand larvae, after which she dies. After the female leaves the uterus, the larvae enter the blood vessels through the intestinal mucosa and migrate through the systemic circulation throughout the body. Nematodes fixed in the striated muscles of skeletal tissue form a collagen capsule around themselves. At this stage, Trichinella larva is from several days to several years or tens of years.

How can I get infected

The invasion of Trichinella larvae in the body of an animal or person occurs by food. With proper heat treatment of infected meat, the pests die, so the danger is jerky, uncooked or uncooked meat of domestic (pork) and wild animals (wild boar, bear and others). The human body is very sensitive to this infection, therefore, if larvae enter the stomach at the anaerobic (capsule) stage of the life cycle, infection is inevitable.

Signs of the disease

The symptomatology and its severity depends on the number of Trichinella larvae that have entered the body, changes during the transition from the enteric (intestinal) stage of invasion to the muscular one, and manifests itself in accordance with the state of the infected immune system. The life cycle of adult trichinella in the intestine is usually accompanied by:

  • general malaise, accompanied by fever, myalgia, chills;
  • abdominal pain (in the abdomen), nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Nonspecific symptoms of the intestinal stage of infection in most cases are diagnosed as intestinal flu or food poisoning, but can persist for several weeks. After the passage of the larvae to the next stage of the life cycle - muscle - the manifestations of infection change. To intestinal symptoms, depending on the location of Trichinella, are added:

  • infection-related cough;
  • chest or back pain;
  • headaches;
  • swelling of the face, eyelids;
  • retinal hemorrhage (or conjunctiva);
  • skin rash and other allergic manifestations.


Diagnosis of trichinosis is carried out by a general blood test, attention is paid to the number of eosinophils (type of white blood cells). To clarify the causative agent of the infection, serological diagnostics are carried out for the presence of antibodies to the nematode antigens in the blood. A muscle biopsy can be prescribed, an intravenous allergy test that helps diagnose diseases from the second week of infection.

Trichinosis requires complex systemic treatment, the selection of drugs is carried out by the attending physician on the basis of symptoms, the clinical picture of the disease and the medical history of the patient. During the intestinal stage, anthelmintic drugs are prescribed, which are taken in the first 10-14 days of the disease. Such funds include Mebendazole, Albendazole, Tiabendazole, Vermoxum and their analogues.

Other drugs are selected according to the symptoms of the disease, to alleviate the general condition of the patient and eliminate the negative effects of infection:

  • To relieve the inflammatory process, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be prescribed - Diclofenac, Voltaren, Ortofen.
  • At elevated temperatures take antipyretic drugs (Paracetamol, Ibuprofen).
  • In severe cases, systemic corticosteroids, glucocorticoids (Prednisolone and others), hyaluronidase enzyme inhibitors and other non-specific drugs are prescribed.

The anthelmintic drug Mebendazole for oral administration acts on the body of parasites through the violation of their digestibility of glucose and other sources of their nutrition. A dose of not more than 100 mg (1 tablet) is taken once, during the first 10-15 days of infection, three times a day, regardless of food intake. The drug is contraindicated in:

  • pregnancy and breastfeeding;
  • ulcerative colitis;
  • Patient age up to 2 years.

A potent anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drug Diclofenac is prescribed for trichinosis in cases of manifestations of inflammation of the musculoskeletal system, lesions of the peripheral nervous system and other serious complications, in the late stage of the disease. The dosage is regulated by the attending physician, the form of administration is oral or intramuscular. Contraindicated in:

  • diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • functional heart, kidney, or liver failure.
Attention! The information presented in the article is for guidance only. Materials of the article do not call for independent treatment. Only a qualified doctor can make a diagnosis and give recommendations for treatment based on the individual characteristics of a particular patient.