Effect of temperature on the survival of Alaria alata mesocercariae

Parasitol Res. 2015 Mar;114(3):1179-87. doi: 10.1007/s00436-014-4301-2. Epub 2015 Jan 9.


Recent findings of Alaria alata mesocercariae in wild boars and other animals in Europe reinforced the concern about the public health risk posed by this parasite especially if the game meat is insufficiently heated during preparation. Cooking and freezing are effective methods for the inactivation of parasites in meat whereas refrigeration is considered as an essential part of the Good Hygiene Practice. Additionally, microwave dielectric heating may represent an equally effective tool for parasite inactivation. Therefore, isolated vital mesocercariae were examined with respect to their resilience against heating, refrigeration, freezing, and microwave heating. A. alata mesocercariae stored in Ringer's solution do not survive heating temperatures that exceed 60.0 °C. Similarly, exposure to microwave heating ensured an inactivation of all parasite developmental stages after 90 s of treatment. In contrast, the parasites' tolerance towards cold is far higher as the mesocercariae survived refrigeration temperatures (4.0 ± 2 °C) in Ringer's solution for up to 13 days. An effective inactivation by cold is therefore only guaranteed if the infested game meat is frozen to a core temperature of -13.7 °C for a minimum of 2 h at least. Game meat should be handled with the same or even higher caution than meat of husbandry animals since wild animals may be infected with parasites or other zoonotic agents that are not common in livestock. It is therefore of crucial importance that appropriate temperature time protocols are used for the reliable inactivation of these zoonotic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Europe
  • Freezing*
  • Microwaves
  • Survival Analysis
  • Temperature*
  • Trematoda / isolation & purification
  • Trematoda / physiology*