Routine Trichinella meat inspection at the slaughterhouse detected one larva in a pooled batch of 100 pig samples. The larva was sent to the Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI) for species identification.
Morphological examination revealed that the larva was not Trichinella spp. Molecular analysis was performed. PCR and sequencing of 5S/ITS identified the larva as Toxocara cati. A second round of digests was carried out at the meat inspection laboratory, in smaller batches to try to identify the infected animal. No further larvae were detected and it was not possible to identify which of the 100 animals the larva had come from. This is the first time that Toxocara cati has been reported in slaughterhouse pigs in Norway.
Although the infected individual could not be identified, the meat originated from one of six potential farms. A small survey regarding rodent control and cats was sent to each of these farms. Cats had restricted access to food storage areas (two farms reported that cats had access) whilst none of the farms allowed cats into the production housing. Cats were, however, present on all the farms (mostly stray cats of unknown health status). Half of the farms also reported seeing rodents in the pig housing during the previous six months and half reported finding rodents in the feed and straw storage areas. We were unable to narrow down the source of infection – however contamination of food or bedding material, with cat faeces or infected rodents, in addition to the presence of infected rodents in pig housing remain potential routes of infection.