Commonly encountered meat borne diseases

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By: Nitikesh Gogoi

What is meat borne diseases?

Disease caused by the consumption and ingestion of infected meat contaminated by pathogenic bacteria and their toxins, viruses and parasites of animals or poultry.

Most of these food borne illness outbreaks are a result of improper handling or contamination when meals are prepared.

Diseases associated with meat and its prevention

There are several diseases well known to both the industry and the general public that are related to all the domestic meat species of beef, pork, lamb and poultry

Some of these are: –

  • Coli (stain E.coli 0157: H&m) from ground beef which causes mostly intestinal infection. This bacterium found naturally in the intestine of animals. The strain common to the meat industry is E.coli 0157:H7. Although it doesn’t cause diseases but when it gains access to the vital organs it can produce infection. Freezing doesn’t kill these bacteria but it is destroyed by cooking. Person infected from this disease is called haemorrhagic colitis and is characterized by bloody diarrhoea.
  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE):- This is also known as mad cow disease. A chronic, fatal and degenerated diseases affecting the CNS of cattle and it is cause by Prions. It is easily transmitted to humans who eat food contaminated meat and bone meal or the digestive tract of the infected carcasses.
  • Tapeworm infection:-Tapeworm infection is the infestation of the digestive tract by tapeworms by ingestion of tapeworm contaminated meat by Taeniasaginata from beef, Taeniasoliumfrom pork and Diphyllobothriumlatum from fish. The tapeworm utilize the nutrition of the host thus causing great loss of nutrient. Also presence of these tapeworm causes enteritis.The serious effect which is exhibited by the human being is due to Migration of the oncosphere in the brain and formation of the cysticercus causes severe damage in the brain. Apart from this there may be ocular cysticercosis due to formation of cysticercus in the eye. The person infected will suffer from enteritis, neurocysticercosis and rhinitis.
  • Trichinosis from pork cause by Trichinella spiralis by eating raw meat infected with the nurse cell. However, the pig gets infection by eating flesh of other infected pigs and rats. However, the disease is not contagious from one human to another and shows symptoms like diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and muscle pain.
  • Toxoplasmosis: – It is caused by the single celled protozoan parasite Toxoplasmagondii. Toxoplasma infection is mostly occur by eating undercooked or contaminated meat especially pork and lamb. Although it can’t be absorbed through intact skin. Person infected will not show symptoms but some people might suffer from swollen lymph nodes, fever, a vague ill feeling and eye pain.
  • Salmonellosis from poultry and pork by eating raw infected meat and improper thawing and shows symptoms like nausea, abdominal cramps and fever.
  • Listeriosis from processed food such as hot dog cause by Listeria monocytogenes. Typical characteristics of this bacteria is that it can survive the refrigeration temperature. The meat products may be contaminated with these bacteria after cooking or before packaging. Person infected will show symptoms like fever, meningitis and mental changes.
  • Staphylococcosis from raw poultry meatcause by Staphylococcusaureus’s toxin. It can grow to enormous numbers on meat without producing changes in colour, odour, or taste if the infected product has not been stored in the safe temperature i.e.below 4 ֯ The person suffering from will show symptoms like nausea, vomiting and dehydration.
  • Campylobacteriosis, this disease is caused by Campylobacterjejuni by ingestion of undercooked meats especially poultry. These are thermotolerant group and are unable to grow outside the mammalian gut and are sensitive to drying, freezing and disinfection. The person infected will be suffering from severe diarrhoea.

How it can be prevented?

  • Adequate cooking of meat and its by products
  • Preventing the cross contamination
  • Proper refrigeration of foods
  • Maintenance of high standard of hygiene
  • Hygienic condition in slaughter house,during processing and at retails
  • Discarding the infected meat parts
  • Appropriate disposal of carcasses and all animal products (OIE)
  • Recognition, control and prevention of infections in animals
  • Heat products above 74֯ C to kill most non-heat-resistant strains (Clostridiumperfringes)
  • During any food packaging process ensure product is heated to a core temperature of 82֯ C for 20 mins to kill any toxins (toxins of Clostridiumbotulinum)

(The writer is a Veterinary Science, 3rd year student of Lakhimpur College)

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