This book claims:

Pork carries deadly parasite

Wikipedia says the disease caused by trichina is trichinosis and the risk of death is low (citing a book which is not available online, ISBN 978-0-7020-5101-2).

About 10,000 infections occur a year.[6] At least 55 countries including the United States, China, Argentina, and Russia have had recently documented cases. While the disease occurs in the tropics it is less common there.[5] Rates of trichinosis in the United States have decreased from about 400 cases per year in the 1940s to 20 per year in the 2000s.[6] The risk of death from infection is low. ...

My question is, is trichina a deadly parasite and did it cause deaths? Did anyone die because of trichinosis (the disease/infection caused by trichina)?

  • 4
    I'm not sure what the claim is because most sources say that trichina can be deadly and probably none say it can't be. Even the wiki quote admits that there is still a 'risk' of death. Oct 27 '16 at 14:51
  • @MarkRogers But it doesn't provide any evidence that it has caused deaths. If a disease never caused any deaths, it can be argued that it's not a deadly disease. Oct 30 '16 at 9:46
  • 3
    The wiki article doesn't provide any evidence but that article admits that it can be deadly, thus there is no counter-claim that it can't be deadly. The article is not claiming that its not a deadly disease, its claiming that it can be. Almost all diseases are not guaranteed to kill you so they are described as having a 'risk of death'. For example, Cancer is a deadly disease with a high risk of death. Just because the death is a 'risk' that can be avoided doesn't mean that cancer is not deadly. Oct 30 '16 at 14:23
  • @MarkRogers Your comparison isn't fair. Cancer is a disease that has caused thousands of deaths. And Wikipedia itself isn't a reliable source that can be cited here. Oct 31 '16 at 14:36
  • 2
    If you could find a claim that was made where it was stated that a person could not die from trichinosis, then your question might get some more positive attention. I haven't voted either way nor am I a pork fan, I'm just trying to point out that there's kind of a lack of a claim here to refute. Oct 31 '16 at 14:59

Yes, there were many fatalities where it was customary to eat uncooked or undercooked pork, at one time.

According to the 1908 book The animal parasites of man: a handbook for students and medical men (alternative link):

The geographical distribution of Trichinella spiralis does not correspond with the occurrence of trichinosis in man ; local customs are an important factor, for instance, the custom of eating pork in a condition that does not affect the life of the enclosed trichinella. In places where such customs do not prevail, epidemics do not occur — at the most there are isolated cases...

North Germany, more especially the Saxe-Thuring States, is the classical land for epidemics of trichinosis, the mortality varies, but it may be very high [footnote 1]

where footnote 1 is:

For instance, extensive epidemics occurred in Hettstadt in 1863 (160 patients, 28 deaths) ; Hanover, 1864-1865 (more than 300 patients) ; Hadersleben, 1865 (337 patients, 101 deaths) ; Potsdam, 1866 (164 patients) ; Greifswald, 1866 (140 cases, 1 death) ; Magdeburg, 1866 (240 cases, 16 deaths) ; Halberstadt, 1867 (100 cases, 20 deaths) ; Stassfurt, 1869 (over 100 cases) ; Wernigerode, 1873 (100 cases, 1 death) ; Chemnitz (194 cases, 3 deaths) ; Linden, 1874 (400 cases, 140 deaths) ; Niederzwohren, near Cassel, 1877 (half the population) ; Diedenhofen, 1877 (99 cases, 10 deaths) ; Leipzig, 1877 (134 cases, 2 deaths) ; Ernsleben, 1883 (403 cases, 66 deaths); Strenz- Neuendorf, 1884 (86 cases, 12 deaths), &c., &c. According to Johne, 109 epidemics with 3,402 cases and 79 deaths occurred in Saxony between 1860 and 1889. Stiles, in a work recently published, states that there were 8,491 cases of trichinosis with 513 cases of death (6.04 per cent.) in Germany from 1860 to 1880; that there were 6,329 cases and 318 deaths (5.02 per cent.) between 1881-1898 we are well aware. Of these latter, 1881-1898, 3,822 (225 deaths) occurred in Prussia, 1,634 (76 deaths) in Saxony, and 873 (17 deaths) in the remaining states. There is, however, no doubt that many deaths from trichinosis were not recognised, as proved by experience at post mortems.

  • It is important to note that today, the mortality rate is way lower than what it was around the 1800's. Also, the mortality rate is based on people that did, in fact, contract the disease, and not on pork consumption. Most people can eat pork all their lives without getting contaminated.
    – T. Sar
    Dec 1 '16 at 11:36

Yes, it causes death, people have already died because of it

The mortality rate of trichinosis is about 1%. [1]


During 1947–1951, when systematic tracking of trichinellosis cases began in the United States, approximately 400 cases with 10–15 trichinellosis-related deaths were reported each year (14). This number declined to a median annual incidence of eight cases (range: 5–15) during 2002–2007, with no reported deaths (13). [2]

But, if you did ask if it's more dangerous than other causes of death, like being hit by a lightning (36 just in 2016 [3]) or car accident, the answer probably would be no.

[1] http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/diseases-and-conditions/pathology/trichinosis

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6401a1.htm

[3] http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/fatalities.shtml

  • 4
    The CDC reference claims there are ~8 cases per year in the U.S., while the encyclopedia.com reference estimates 150,000 to 300,000 infections (though doesn't seem to give sources for it). Is there any explanation for this difference? Oct 26 '16 at 16:47
  • 9
    I'd argue that the last line provides important context. It should however be cited. Technically pretty much anything is deadly in the sense that lots of weird things kill people.Sneezing can kill you (huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/08/14/…), as can drinking carrot juice(goo.gl/9DbDLb) If someone asked "is carrot juice potentially a deadly poison" you could point to someone dying from it. Also: government source for lightening deaths:web.archive.org/web/20051029004621/http://…
    – Murphy
    Oct 26 '16 at 18:07
  • 6
    @MohammadSakibArifin we usually allow authors a little bit of space for personal opinion as long as they are short, decorative and identified as such.
    – Sklivvz
    Oct 26 '16 at 19:09
  • 6
    Context does not detract from the answer. If we want to be pedantic about it, there are very few things that would not be considered "deadly," so the context about relative risk is relevant. If a single person anywhere in the world, ever, died from having an elephant fall on them, then we could say that "flying elephants are deadly." But would that have any meaning without context? Oct 26 '16 at 20:06
  • 5
    @MohammadSakibArifin If you are only interested in partial truths and cherry picking numbers, this site is definitely not for you. The last line is useful to use a baseline comparison and shows how using just a few raw numbers to try to make a point without proper context is absurd.
    – T. Sar
    Oct 27 '16 at 12:48

Yes, trichina can cause deaths and it has caused deaths. According to the US health department, 10-15 people died because of it in the 1940s. The mortality rate of trichinosis was over 2.5% then.

Since the Public Health Service began recording statistics on trichinosis in 1947, the number of cases reported by state health departments each year has declined. In the late 1940s, health departments reported an average of 400 cases and 10-15 deaths each year;[1]

It's mortality rate decreased from 2-3% to about 1% in the mid 1980s.

from 1982 through 1986, the number declined to an average of 57 cases per year and a total of three deaths for the period. From 1987 through 1990, 206 cases of trichinosis from 22 states, including 14 multiple-case outbreaks, were reported to CDC. In 1990, two large outbreaks associated with commercial pork accounted for 106 cases.[1]

Currently, it's mortality rate is about 1% in the United States.

The mortality rate of trichinosis is about 1%.[2]

Trichinosis caused many deaths in Thailand in 1981:

In 1980, trichinosis was reported, the infection being caused by the consumption of wild squirrel[11]. An epidemic of trichinosis involving 177 patients and 13 deaths occurred in 1981. The highest annual number of hospital recorded trichinosis cases was 557 in 1983.[3]

[1] http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/1770927

[2] http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/diseases-and-conditions/pathology/trichinosis

[3] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Soraya_Kaewpitoon/publication/5289716_Food-borne_parasitic_zoonosis_distribution_of_trichinosis_in_Thailand/links/00b7d5334b716892f4000000.pdf

  • 2
    To give it a bit more context - that 1% chance of dying from trichina assumes that you actually got the disease in the first place. The chance of dying from it will be way smaller than that when you consider the number of people who eat pork and the number of people who actually got the disease.
    – T. Sar
    Nov 29 '16 at 19:09

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