New Zealand



Trichinellosis in pigs and humans from New Zealand. The parasite Trichinella (assumed T. spiralis, to be confirmed) has been found in home killed pig meat derived from a farm in Whangamata, Coromandel and 2 people have been hospitalised with symptoms of trichinosis. Pig meat consumed by the 2 people has tested positive by pepsin digest for Trichinella, the cause of trichinosis.

The Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Health are cooperating in the investigation.

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

The farm has been declared a Restricted Place under the Biosecurity Act, preventing the movement of live pigs and pig meat off the property. Leftover meat has been impounded. The farm is not a commercial pig farm.

All pigs on the property (30, including 5 captured feral pigs) will be blood tested (ELISA) and restrictions will remain on the property until it has been completely destocked of pigs. All pigs will be subject to pepsin digest on muscle samples during destocking. Tracing movements of live pigs and pig meat from the farm is being undertaken, as will surveillance in feral rats and cats, to determine where the infection has come from. The captured feral pigs present on the farm have been destroyed, and have tested positive by pepsin digest on diaphragmatic muscle.

Trichinosis is notifiable to both the public and animal health authorities in New Zealand. Trichinella spiralis is known to occur at low levels in wildlife cycles in parts of New Zealand, involving rats, cats, and feral pigs. Spill-overs into domestic pigs and humans are rare events. The last case in pigs was in 1997, and in humans 1964. An assurance surveillance programme operates for export and domestic market.

Information on the animal health status of New Zealand with respect to Trichinella spiralis can be found in the following two publications:

Liberona HE, MacDiarmid SC. Trichinella spiralis in New Zealand. Surveillance 15 (1) 17-18. 1988.

Paterson K, Black A, Reichel MP. Porcine trichinosis diagnosed in the Rotorua area. Surveillance 24 (4) 6-8. 1997. 

NEW ZEALAND: Follow-up Report
Christian Kapel

Resources for Trichinella control. Related to the report on trichinellosis in pigs and humans in New Zealand, I would like draw the readers' attention to the existence of the International Commission on Trichinellosis (ICT), an international scientific forum dealing with all aspects of Trichinella and trichinellosis.

Here it is possible among others to find information on: 

  1. What to do in case of an outbreak
  2. How to treat patients
  3. Links to the International Trichinella Reference Centre in Rome
  4. Description of recent outbreaks around the world

Christian Kapel ICT Secretary General, Professor, PhD
Danish Centre for Experimental Parasitology
WHO/FAO Collaboration Centre on Parasitic Zoonoses
The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Dyrlagevej 100 DK1870

Frederiksberg C. Denmark