Family members infected with parasitic worms from undercooked bear meat at reunion.: Parasitic Worm Infection
Bear Meat Reunion Outbreak

By | May 29, 2024



1. Parasitic worm infection
2. Undercooked bear meat
3. Family reunion outbreak

Family Members Infected With Parasitic Worms After Eating Undercooked Bear Meat at Reunion

A recent CDC report reveals that six individuals contracted parasitic roundworms from undercooked bear meat at a South Dakota family reunion. The meat, hunted in Canada and frozen for 45 days, was grilled and served as kabobs. Despite being undercooked initially, the meat was returned to the grill. Within days, symptoms of trichinellosis, caused by Trichinella roundworms, appeared in the attendees. Laboratory testing confirmed the infection, leading to hospitalization and treatment with albendazole. The CDC emphasizes cooking wild game meat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent such infections. Trichinellosis is rare in the US, with most cases linked to bear meat consumption.

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Family Members Infected With Parasitic Worms After Eating Undercooked Bear Meat at Reunion

Family gatherings are meant to be joyous occasions filled with good food and laughter. However, for six unsuspecting family members at a reunion in South Dakota two years ago, their meal took a dangerous turn when they became infected with parasitic roundworms after consuming undercooked bear meat. This shocking incident serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of properly handling and cooking wild game meat to prevent such infections.


The story begins with a family reunion where members from Arizona, Minnesota, and South Dakota came together for a meal. One person brought meat from a black bear he had hunted in Canada, which had been frozen for 45 days to kill any potential parasites. The meat was then grilled and served as kabobs, but it was undercooked initially, leading the family to cook it further before eating.

Unfortunately, this decision to consume undercooked bear meat had severe consequences. Six days later, a 29-year-old man who attended the reunion fell ill with symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, and swelling around the eyes. Hospitalization revealed that he had eaten black bear meat, leading doctors to suspect trichinellosis, a parasitic infection caused by Trichinella roundworms. Subsequent lab tests confirmed the presence of the parasites in the meat.

Trichinellosis is a rare infection in the United States, with most cases stemming from the consumption of wild game meat. In this instance, five other family members also contracted the infection, highlighting the risk of cross-contamination from infected meat to other foods. Treatment with albendazole, an anti-parasite medication, was necessary for those hospitalized, while others recovered on their own.

While this outbreak was contained within the family, it serves as a reminder to home cooks to handle wild game meat with caution. Proper cooking is essential to eliminate the risk of parasitic infections, as freezing may not always be effective in killing all types of Trichinella larvae. The CDC recommends cooking wild game meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure safety.

It’s crucial for cooks to use a meat thermometer to verify the temperature, especially when dealing with dark-colored meats like bear meat. Douglas Clark, an environmental scientist, emphasizes the importance of thorough cooking to prevent infections, as visually assessing doneness can be challenging with certain meats.

In the broader context of public health, trichinellosis infections are relatively uncommon in the U.S., with most cases linked to wild game consumption. Worldwide, however, the infection poses a greater threat, particularly from improperly cooked pork or wild boar meat. The incident at the family reunion underscores the need for awareness and proper food handling practices to prevent such infections.

In conclusion, the family members’ ordeal serves as a cautionary tale about the risks associated with undercooked wild game meat. By following recommended cooking guidelines and ensuring thorough cooking, individuals can protect themselves from parasitic infections. This incident highlights the importance of food safety and the potential consequences of inadequate cooking practices, especially when dealing with game meats like bear. Stay informed, cook safely, and enjoy your meals without putting your health at risk.

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