National Reference Laboratory for Trichinella
Trichinellosis is caused by nematodes of the genus Trichinella. Domestic (e.g. pigs) and wild animals (e.g. wild boars, foxes and racoon dogs), which are infected with Trichinella larvae, are the natural reservoirs.
Human beings contract this disease from the consumption of raw or insufficiently cooked trichinous meat (e.g. from domestic pigs or wild boars) or from products made from them, from raw sausage or raw ham. Depending on the dose and course of the infection, the disease can trigger symptoms ranging from mild to severe in humans. In rare cases it may prove fatal.
According to the Meat Hygiene Act all slaughtered pigs and all other animals intended for human consumption, which are a potential source of infection, must be examined for Trichinella. In Germany pig herds can be deemed to be free of Trichinella. There have been reports of Trichinella-positive findings in racoon dogs, foxes and wild boars. Most of the reported cases of trichinellosis in human beings can be traced back to so-called "imported cases" from countries where these zoonotic agents are still widespread, particularly amongst domestic pigs.
The National Reference Laboratory for Trichinella is attached to BfR. The focus of its work is on questions about the diagnosis and epidemiology of trichinellosis in humans and animals. The necessary laboratory tests draw on parasitological, serological and molecular-biological methods which are conducted under accredited conditions in accordance with ISO 17025.
Main areas of work of the NRL for Trichinella
The main areas of the National Reference Laboratory include
- Assumption of the tasks of the National Reference Laboratory in accordance with the Zoonoses Directive
- Development and validation of diagnostic methods
- Conduct of elucidation and confirmation tests (larvae detection, serum ELISA)
- Differentiation of Trichinella isolates using PCR
- Elucidation of chains of infection
- Strain collection, production of reference material
- Conduct of interlaboratory tests
- Advice, preparation of expert opinions
- Annual reporting and publication of work results
National and international co-operation
Within the framework of co-operation and research the National Veterinary Medical Reference Laboratory for Trichinella works closely with various national and international institutions. The Reference Laboratory is, for instance, involved in the research projects "Trichiporse" and "MedVetNet" of the European Commission which are conducted within the framework of the 5th and 6th Framework Programmes for Research. Furthermore, it also assumes duties as a member of the International Commission on Trichinellosis (ICT).