Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Do You Know Why Moslems Don't Eat Pork?

Not many people especially among moslems themselves know why they are forbidden (haram) to consume pork. I remember learning about the reason during my class on religious knowledge in secondary school. Since it was taught to me in school I presumed everyone knows about the reason and not blindly follow the practise.

The reason I want to write about this topic is due to the lack of clarity on the reasons in what KTemoc wrote on the topic Piggy Politics in his blog KTemoc Consders recently. His earlier blog with the title Why Orthodox Jews Don't Eat Pork! did mention trichonosis as the problem (Trichonosis is also known as Trichinellosis). That is all and not much else.

Trichonosis is caused by trichinella worms which are prevalent in pigs. It may even be found in other animals but maybe much less prevalent. The Jews and Moslems must have taken the easier way to avoid Trichonis infection by forbidding its followers to avoid pork in ite entirety. Some considers this is not relevant anymore due to more hygenic management practices in rearing the animals. Trichinella worms in its cyst state is very difficult to eliminate even by boiling.

Given the scenario shown on TV how the pigs in Paya Mengkuang, Melaka and its impact on the environment from its effluents, I doubt any progress has occurred on this aspect of hygiene.

To enlighten you more on what is trichonosis I produced here what the disease is all about.

What is Trichinellosis?

Trichinellosis, also called trichinosis, is caused by eating raw or undercooked pork infected with the larvae of a species of worm called Trichinella. Infection occurs worldwide, but is most common in areas where raw or undercooked pork, such as ham or sausage, is eaten.

What are the symptoms of a trichinellosis infection?

Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and abdominal discomfort are the first symptoms of trichinellosis. Headaches, fevers, chills, cough, eye swelling, aching joints and muscle pains, itchy skin, diarrhea, or constipation follow the first symptoms. If the infection is heavy, patients may experience difficulty coordinating movements, and have heart and breathing problems. In severe cases, death can occur.
For mild to moderate infections, most symptoms subside within a few months. Fatigue, weakness, and diarrhea may last for months.

How soon after infection will symptoms appear?

Abdominal symptoms can occur 1-2 days after infection. Further symptoms usually start 2-8 weeks after eating contaminated meat. Symptoms may range from very mild to severe and relate to the number of infectious worms consumed in meat. Often, mild cases of trichinellosis are never specifically diagnosed and are assumed to be the flu or other common illnesses.

How does infection occur in humans and animals?

When a human or animal eats meat that contains infective Trichinella cysts, the acid in the stomach dissolves the hard covering of the cyst and releases the worms. The worms pass into the small intestine and, in 1-2 days, become mature. After mating, adult females lay eggs. Eggs develop into immature worms, travel through the arteries, and are transported to muscles. Within the muscles, the worms curl into a ball and encyst (become enclosed in a capsule). Infection occurs when these encysted worms are consumed in meat.

Am I at risk for trichinellosis?

If you eat raw or undercooked meats, particularly pork,you are at risk for trichinellosis.

Can I spread trichinellosis to others?

No. Infection can only occur by eating raw or undercooked meat containing Trichinella worms.

What should I do if I think I have trichinellosis?

See your Doctor who can order tests and treat symptoms of trichinellosis infection. If you have eaten raw or undercooked meat, you should tell your health care provider.

How is trichinellosis infection diagnosed?

A blood test or muscle biopsy can show if you have trichinellosis.

How can I prevent trichinellosis?

Cook meat products thoroughly until the juices run clear or to an internal temperature of 75 o C.
Clean meat grinders thoroughly if you prepare your own ground meats.

Just like the deadly HIV and AIDS problem, even the threat of death dont stop people from practising sex without safety and sharing of needles for drug abuse.

In the case of Paya Mengkuang, KTemoc is right in blaming the state government for the haste in how they handle the situation. The Chief minister was definitely wedged between the devil and the deep blue sea over a problem they have been keeping a closed eye on illegal pig farming and the environmental pollution all these while. The expose by Karam Sigh Walia was the last straw that broke the camel's back coming at the worst of times just before the impending General Election. The CM is now doomed.

The best solution should be for the government to assist the farmers by providing modern infrastructure that can eliminate the orthodox husbandry technique where the effluent is discharged directly into the river system and finally to the sea close by. This may be costly but if the government can afford to waste money on unnecessary projects like the astronaut program and have better control of projects so as to prevent unnecessary cost overrun which is more of a con job than real cost overrun.

When the infrastructure is in place then only the government shoud act and if the population of pigs need to be culled down, it can be done to suit the size and carrying capacity of the new farm. Now the CM is facing several immdeiate failures namely failure to act on the illegal pig farming which results in polltion of the environment, failure to appease the people affected by the stench and unhealty condition and the worst part is the impending failure to secure the votes of those people involved be they the pig farmers or the community opposed to the farms being located in their area.

By the way moslems are allowed to eat pork even from the carcass of a dead pig under certain circumstances. What is the circumstance? When no other food is available and by not eating it may result in certain death, like being lost in the Malaysian jungle for one.

Since many people love to eat pork inspite of the possible infection of Trichonosis, well go ahead and enjoy yourself.


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