The present study was designed to investigate the tolerance to low temperatures of 9 Trichinella isolates in rat muscle tissue. Nine groups of 24 rats were infected with encapsulated Trichinella spiralis, Trichinella nativa, Trichinella britovi, Trichinella murrelli, Trichinella T6, Trichinella nelsoni, and 3 nonencapsulated Trichinella pseudospiralis strains. Six rats from each of the groups were necropsied at 5, 10, 20, and 40 wk postinfection (wpi). Muscle tissues containing Trichinella larvae were exposed to temperatures of −18, −5, and 5 C for 1 or 4 wk, and afterward the reproductive capacity index (RCI) in mice was determined for the 9 individual Trichinella isolates. Only T. nativa muscle larvae were infective after freezing at a temperature of −18 C. At 5 wpi all encapsulated isolates, except for the tropical species T. nelsoni, remained infective after exposure to a temperature of −5 C for both 1 and 4 wk, whereas nonencapsulated T. pseudospiralis survived only 1 wk of exposure. All Trichinella spp. remained infective after exposure to a temperature of 5 C. Muscle larvae for all investigated species remained infective as long as they persisted in live rats during the experiment. Analysis of variance showed a significant effect of age on the temperature tolerance of encapsulated T. spiralis and nonencapsulated T. pseudospiralis. In addition, significant interaction between age of muscle larvae and length of exposure was found. In general Trichinella muscle larvae of medium age (10 and 20 wpi) tolerated freezing better than early and late stages of infection (5 and 40 wpi). This is the first study to demonstrate such a relationship between age of infection and temperature tolerance of Trichinella spp. muscle larvae.

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