Monday, June 17, 2024

Six People Infected with Roundworm Disease After Eating Black Bear Kebabs

Six people were infected with a rare parasitic disease after eating black bear meat at a family reunion in South Dakota.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report revealing new information of the outbreak, which took place in July 2022.

raw bear meat
Raw black bear meat is naturally dark, which makes it hard to determine whether or not it’s fully cooked

According to the report, one member of the family had brought meat to the party from a black bear that they had hunted in Canada. The black bear meat had been frozen in a household freezer for more than a month being before taken out.

The family then thawed the meat and made kebabs with grilled vegetables.

The CDC said the family had a hard time determining whether the meat was fully cooked due to its dark color. As a result, it was unintentionally served rare.

A week after the family reunion, one member of the family, a 29-year-old man developed severe muscle pain, swelling around the eyes, as well as a fever. He was taken to the hospital twice, where he received treatment.

parasitic worm
Trichinella nativa, a freeze-resistant type of roundworm, was found in the frozen bear meat that the family consumed

The Minnesota man later tested positive for Trichinella, a type of roundworm that is often found in raw or undercooked meat such as pork and wild boar. Five other members of the family later also developed symptoms such as stomach pain, muscle pain, headache, diarrhea, and fevers.

Two others had been exposed to the meat at the reunion but did not develop any symptoms. As for the ninth person who attended the meeting, the CDC could not confirm whether or not they had been exposed to the roundworms.

After the Trichinella diagnosis was confirmed, the CDC tested the leftover frozen bear meat. They found the same larvae from the roundworm species.

It’s presumed that all six individuals contracted trichinellosis, a parasitic disease caused by eating raw or undercooked meat contaminated with the larvae. The CDC emphasizes, however, that such cases are rare.

From 2016 to 2022, there were only seven confirmed outbreaks of trichinellosis in the United States, which led to 35 confirmed or probable cases.

black bear
Up to 24 percent of black bears in Alaska and Canada are carriers of the parasitic roundworm

According to the CDC, two of those who were infected with the disease had only eaten the grilled vegetables and not the meat. This emphasizes the importance of separating the meat from other foods during cooking as cross contamination can occur with trichinella-infected meat.

Out of the six family members who were hospitalized, three had consumed the kebabs. They were given a drug called albendazole, which kills the larvae and the parasitic worms. They, along with the others, have since recovered from the illness.

The report from CDC also warns that freezing bear meat will not kill all species of the Trichinella roundworm. This proved to be true as the bear meat eaten at the reunion had been frozen for 45 days prior to consumption.

The CDC recommends cooking black bear and other wild game meat to an internal temperature of at least 165F and advises individuals to confirm the temperature using a meat thermometer, and not by looking at its color.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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