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The inspection of meat was important due to the potential dangers associated with the product. For example, there have been numerous outbreaks of trichinosis due to poor meat hygiene. Trichinosis is an infection of the intestines that results in diarrhoea, muscle pains, fever, dehydration and swelling around the eyes. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Trichinella spiralis. Humans can swallow the larvae if it is present in raw or undercooked meat. Once in the stomach the worms hatch. Meat inspections in abattoirs are one way to prevent outbreaks of the disease. This microscope has a glass plate with a grid etched on to its surface, which would have allowed close, systematic examination of meat samples.

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Glossary: trichinosis

Trichinosis is an intestinal and tissue infection of humans and other mammals. Infection occurs through the consumption of infected meat (usually domestic pork) that carries the encysted larvae of T. Spiralis. Common symptoms include: diarrhoea, muscle pains, fever, dehydration and swelling around the eyes. Myocarditis (heart infection), pneumonitis (lung infection) and encephalitis (brain infection) can also occur in advanced cases.

Glossary: larva

The newly hatched, wingless, often wormlike form of many insects before their transition to an adult form.

Glossary: monocular microscope

Microscope with a single viewing eyepiece, as distinct from binocular or stereomicroscopes. It should be noted that monocular microscopes can be fitted with a binocular eyepiece to give pseudo-stereo views

Glossary: compound microscope

Microscope with multiple optical elements (lenses/mirrors). It has two microscopes in series, the first serving as the ocular lens (close to the eye) and the second serving as the objective lens (close to the object to be viewed).