Six Infected by Parasitic Worms After Consuming Bear Meat

Six Infected by Parasitic Worms After Consuming Bear Meat

United States: Approximately six (6) family members, including a 12-year-old child, got infected by a rare roundworm parasite known as trichinellosis, after the meat of black bear was served in a family reunion in South Dakota. The details about the infection was shared by the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday.

Eight relatives partook in a meal together in South Dakota in 2022. This meal featured meat from a black bear, harvested in Saskatchewan, Canada, which had been frozen for 45 days based on the advice of a hunting outfitter as a method to eliminate parasites, according to the reports by Fox News. 

“Individuals consuming wild game meat must recognize that thorough cooking is the sole method to effectively exterminate Trichinella parasites, and contaminated meat can transfer parasites to other foods,” the CDC stated in their release.

The meat, prepared as kebabs with vegetables, was grilled. Notably, two of the infected individuals had only consumed the vegetables. The darker coloration of the meat led to it being unintentionally served rare, prompting some family members to mention and subsequently re-cook it.

In July 2022, six days post-consumption, a 29-year-old family member who had returned to Minnesota exhibited symptoms such as fever, intense muscle pain, periorbital edema (swelling around the eyes), and eosinophilia. 

Upon the 29-year-old’s second hospitalization within 17 days, medical practitioners identified his consumption of bear meat, leading to a diagnosis of the parasite. The Minnesota Department of Health was informed of the case.

The man was administered albendazole as treatment. “Albendazole treats infections caused by worms,” as per the Mayo Clinic. “It functions by inhibiting the worm’s glucose absorption, causing the worm to lose energy and perish,” as outlined by Fox News. 

Public health officials interviewed eight family members residing in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Arizona, discovering that six harbored the parasite.

A ninth minor, whose exposure to the meat was unconfirmed, appeared unaffected, according to the CDC. 

Another two infected family members were hospitalized and also treated with albendazole, with all six recovering fully.

The CDC detailed the parasite’s lifecycle: “Upon ingestion and exposure to gastric acid and pepsin, larvae are released from cysts and invade the small bowel mucosa, maturing into adult worms. Females measure 2.2 mm, males 1.2 mm. Their lifespan in the small bowel is approximately four weeks. After one week, females release larvae that migrate to striated muscles where they encyst.”

These larvae can travel to muscle tissue and even the brain, CBS reported, Fox News claimed. 

The CDC advised, “Cooking meat to an internal temperature of ≥165°F (≥74°C) is essential to exterminate Trichinella spp. parasites. Trichinella-contaminated meat can cross-contaminate other foods, necessitating raw meat to be kept and prepared separately to avoid cross-contamination.”

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