Outbreak of trichinellosis associated with consumption of game meat in West Greenland

Vet Parasitol. 2005 Sep 5;132(1-2):131-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2005.05.041.


The Inuit population of the Arctic has always been at risk of acquiring trichinellosis and severe outbreaks have been recorded in Alaska and Canada. In West Greenland, a number of large outbreaks took place during the 1940s and 1950s; they involved total 420 cases including 37 deaths. Since then only sporadic cases have been reported. Here, we describe an outbreak of infection with Trichinella spp. after consumption of infected meat presumably from walrus or polar bear caught in western Greenland. Six persons who had eaten of the walrus and polar bear meat were two males and four females, age range 6--47 years. Using ELISA and Western blot analysis (Trichinella-specific IgG antibodies against excreted/secreted antigen and synthetic tyvelose antigen, respectively) four of these persons were found to be sero-positive for Trichinella antibodies, with three of these having clinical symptoms compatible with trichinellosis. On re-test, 12--14 months later one of the two sero-negative persons had sero-converted, probably due to a new, unrelated infection. This study demonstrates that acquiring Trichinella from the consumption of marine mammals remains a possibility in Greenland, and that cases may go undetected. Trichinellosis in Greenland can be prevented by the implementation of public health measures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Helminth / blood
  • Antigens, Helminth / chemistry
  • Blotting, Western
  • Child
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Eosinophilia / immunology
  • Female
  • Food Parasitology*
  • Greenland / epidemiology
  • Helminth Proteins / chemistry
  • Hexoses / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat / parasitology
  • Middle Aged
  • Trichinella*
  • Trichinellosis / diagnosis
  • Trichinellosis / epidemiology*
  • Trichinellosis / parasitology
  • Walruses / parasitology*


  • Antibodies, Helminth
  • Antigens, Helminth
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Hexoses
  • excretory-secretory antigen, Trichinella
  • tyvelose