CDC: Six People Contract ‘Brain Worms’ After Eating Undercooked Bear Meat

This undated photo supplied by Canberra Health Services, shows a parasite in a specimen ja
anberra Health Services via AP

Six people who attended a family gathering where undercooked bear meat was served contracted “brain worms,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC explained in a statement from Thursday that a 29-year-old man in Minnesota had been hospitalized with symptoms including a fever, “severe myalgias,” and “periorbital edema.” Prior to seeking medical attention, the man had attended a family gathering with eight other family members where “rare” bear meat had been served days before the “onset” of his symptoms.

At the family gathering, kebabs made from bear meat that one of the family members had “harvested” in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, were served, according to the CDC.

“The meat was initially inadvertently served rare, reportedly because the meat was dark in color, and it was difficult for the family members to visually ascertain the level of doneness,” the CDC said.

An investigation surrounding the patient’s symptoms was launched, resulting in his diagnosis being “confirmed by a positive Trichinella immunoglobulin (Ig) G antibody test result.”

Black and white print illustrating a cross-section of the lateral ventricles of a human brain, with alphabetized figures indicating the sites of ventricular worm infestations, 1825. Courtesy Internet Archive. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Trichinosis is described as being a “food-borne disease caused by a microscopic parasite called the Trichinella,” also known as a brain worm, according to the New York State Department of Health.

“Six days before symptom onset in the index patient, he and eight extended family members from three states (Arizona, Minnesota, and South Dakota) had gathered for several days in South Dakota and shared a meal that included kabobs made from the meat of a black bear,” the CDC wrote in the statement.

Health officials in all three states interviewed the family members and found that five had eaten the bear meat, and eight of them had eaten vegetables that had been cooked with the undercooked bear meat.

Out of the six family members who had eaten the meal and gotten sick, four ate both the bear meat and the vegetables, and two people only ate the vegetables.

Three out of the six family members who had fallen sick were hospitalized. All six family members who were sick ended up recovering.

“The family member who harvested the bear and provided meat samples for testing was advised to discard any remaining meat,” the CDC added. “All identified trichinellosis cases were reported to appropriate state health departments and to CDC.”


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