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Sarcocysts

Sarcocysts (Sarcocystis spp.) are unicellular organisms and infect mammals, birds and lower vertebrates. In the intermediate host the muscle cysts develop. These are taken up by the final host with meat and develop in the intestines into oocysts (parasite eggs) which in turn are excreted via faeces into the environment.

So far two types of sarcocysts are known which are transmitted from animals to humans. Humans can become infected by sarcocysts after the consumption of beef (Sarcocystis bovihominis) or pork meat (Sarcocystis porcihominis). In order to prevent infection, BfR recommends to sufficiently heat meat products prior to consumption or freeze them at least for three days at minus 20°C.

Cases of disease in humans are rare; most infections occur without symptoms. Sarcocystosis is not reportable in Germany. For the interruption of the infection chain mainly hygienic measures in animal husbandry are necessary; the latter’s control is also a focus of food monitoring. The focus of monitoring is on hygienic measures in animal stocks to interrupt the infection chain.

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