Rare Brain Worms from Undercooked Bear Meat Infect Six at Family Reunion

Wild adult Brown Bear (Ursus Arctos) in the winter forest. Dangerous animal in natural habitat. Wildlife scene

A family reunion in South Dakota turned south when six members were infected with rare brain worms. The condition is called trichinellosis and is rare in the United States. Nine family members gathered for the reunion, and six were infected after ingesting black bear meat kebabs. The reunion was held in the evening and the host was unaware that the bear meat was undercooked because it was dark. One family member was hospitalized with fever, muscle pain, and swelling around his eyes. Doctors discovered a parasite in his body. Four family members required hospitalization.

When the CDC questioned other family members, they discovered that others were infected. The hunter who brought the meat to the family froze it before consumption, believing it would kill potential parasites. However, adequate cooking at a high temperature is the only reliable way to kill trichinella parasites.

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