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Undercooked black bear meat infected family with brain parasite, CDC reports

Undercooked black bear meat infected family with brain parasite, CDC reports


Two American black bears (Ursus americanus) fight and splash around in the water of a pond. (Photo by Philippe Clement/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Several family members, including one from Minnesota, Infected with brain worms after eating black bear meat together, according to a recent report from the center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says:

According to the CDC, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) was notified in July 2022 that a 29-year-old man had been hospitalized with symptoms including fever, severe muscle pain, and swollen eyes. The man had been hospitalized twice within a 17-day period due to his symptoms.

During his second hospitalization, doctors learned that six days before the man became ill, he had attended a family gathering in South Dakota that included skewers of roasted black bear meat, which the CDC said had been harvested several months earlier, in May 2022, by another family in northern Saskatchewan, Canada.

The black bear meat was frozen for 45 days, thawed and grilled with vegetables. It was originally served rare, unintentionally, because the meat was dark in color, making it difficult for the family to tell how done it was, according to the CDC.

While eating the meat, the family realised it was undercooked and had it recooked and served.

According to the CDC, doctors ultimately diagnosed the man with trichinellosis, an infection caused by the larvae of a parasitic roundworm that is usually contracted by eating meat from infected animals, usually carnivores like black bears.

Trichinellosis is rare in the United States, with approximately 15 confirmed cases per year.

When humans become infected, the larvae travel through the bloodstream and burrow into muscle tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. In severe cases, the brain, heart and lungs can be affected, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

According to the CDC, six of eight family members at the meal showed symptoms of infection, including four who ate the bear meat and two who only ate the vegetables served with the meat. The trichinellosis family members ranged in age from 12 to 62 years old. Four of the family members were from Minnesota, one from Arizona, and one from South Dakota.

Three of the six affected family members were hospitalized and treated with albendazole, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, stops the worms from absorbing sugar, causing them to lose energy and die.

All six people infected have recovered, according to the CDC.

Freezing kills the bug, called Trichinella, but some species, especially those that live in Arctic and subarctic regions, can tolerate freezing. The CDC recommends cooking wild game meat to an internal temperature of about 165 degrees, checking with a meat thermometer. You should also keep raw meat away from other foods while cooking to prevent cross-contamination.




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