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Minnesota Family Infested by Brain Worms After Eating Black Bear Kabobs

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Minnesota Family Infested by Brain Worms After Eating Black Bear Kabobs

Posted 2024-06-05  by  Stephanie Mallory

The bear was killed in Saskatchewan and shared amongst nine people

Image: black_bear_worms

Members of a Minnesota family were sickened after eating undercooked bear meat. (Image by Clayton Rowe)

A new report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states a number of people in a Minnesota family who shared a meal of bear meat that one of them had harvested in Saskatchewan were infected with brain worms due to the contaminated meat.

According to CBS News, in July 2022, the Minnesota Department of Health was notified that a 29-year-old man had been hospitalized several times over a two-and-a-half-week period with a variety of symptoms including fever, severe muscle soreness, swelling around the eyes, and other issues.

After his second hospitalization, the man informed doctors that he had recently attended a family event in South Dakota where he shared a meal of kabobs made from black bear meat that "had been harvested by one of the family members in northern Saskatchewan."

The meat had been thawed out for the meal after being in a freezer for a month and a half. The CDC reported that the meat was inadvertently served rare because it is naturally darker in color. Family members began eating the kabobs, but after they noticed the meat tasted undercooked, it was recooked and served again.

In a CDC press release, the organization presented microscopic evidence of "encapsulated larvae in a direct black bear meat muscle squash prep."

Nine family members, mostly from Minnesota but also from South Dakota and Arizona, consumed the meal, though some of them only ate the vegetables, which had been cooked and served alongside the bear meat.

Doctors eventually diagnosed the 29-year-old man with trichinellosis, a roundworm rarely found in humans that is usually acquired through eating wild game. Once it has entered a human’s body, the larvae can then move to muscle tissue and organs, including the brain.

Five other family members were diagnosed with the parasitic infection, including a 12-year-old girl and two other family members who had only eaten the vegetables during the meal. Three family members were hospitalized.

The CDC says the only definite way to kill trichinella parasites is to thoroughly cook meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F.

It’s believed that up to one quarter of black bears in Canada and Alaska may be infected with the parasite.

Dr. Céline Gounder told "CBS Mornings" that brain worm infection symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and seizures. Some people who contract the worms may experience no symptoms at all. Gounder explains that often these parasites get "walled off by your immune system and they get calcified."

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