Epidemiology and Infection

An outbreak of Trichinella spiralis infection in southern Lebanon

M. HAIM a1c1, M. EFRAT a1a2, M. WILSON a3, P. M. SCHANTZ a3, D. COHEN a1 and J. SHEMER a1
a1 Army Health Branch Research Unit, Medical Corps, Israel Defense Forces
a2 Department of Pediatrics, Carmel Medical Center and the Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
a3 Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA


An outbreak of trichinosis occurred during January 1995 in a south Lebanese village with a population of 800–1000 persons. The estimated number of persons treated for a Trichinella-like illness was 200. Sixty-three persons sought medical attention at a local infirmary: 44 of them were diagnosed as having trichinosis or suspected trichinosis according to their clinical symptoms, signs and laboratory tests. An environmental investigation indicated that the source of infection was pork obtained from a single butcher in the village and consumed uncooked, as an ingredient of ‘kubeniye’ (a local dish), during Christmas and New Year's meals. Sera of patients, suspected patients, and asymptomatic controls were tested for the presence of anti-Trichinella antibodies. Eight (89%) of the 9 tested patients were positive, 1 (11%) was negative. Among the 7 suspected patients, 2 (28·5%) were positive, 3 (42·9%) had equivocal results, and 2 (28·5%) were negative. Among the 20 asymptomatic persons, 3 (15%) were positive, 12 (60%) negative and 5 (25%) had equivocal results. Specimens from the implicated pork meat were examined by microscopy and were found to contain encysted larvae of Trichinella spiralis. This outbreak of trichinosis is one of the largest reported. Previous outbreaks in Lebanon occurred under very similar circumstances, indicating a need to control and prevent the trading of pork meat that is not under veterinary control, and to increase the awareness of the population for this problem.

(Accepted May 4 1997)

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr Moti Haim, Army Health Branch Research Unit, Military Post 02149, IDF, Israel.