abstract

Trichinella spp. infections of marine mammals pose a human health risk in Arctic regions where game meat is an important part of the diet. In the last decade, the grey seal population of the sub-arctic Baltic Sea has reached a level at which hunting is possible and seal meat is now available for food. We conducted a survey on the occurrence of Trichinella spp. in grey seals Halichoerus grypus (n  =  171) and ringed seals Phoca hispida botnica (n  =  56) of the Baltic Sea in the coastal waters of Finland, a highly Trichinella sp. endemic area. Muscle samples were examined by a mechanically assisted digestion method during 2006–2010. One grey seal was positive for Trichinella nativa, while all samples from ringed seals were negative. Even though just 1 grey seal was infected, the finding here emphasizes the importance of proper meat inspection of seals intended for human consumption, especially in areas with high infection pressure.

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