American family infected with brain worms after eating undercooked bear meat

American family infected with brain worms after eating undercooked bear meat

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An American family who shared a meal of bear meat at a gathering was infected with brain worms, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2022, the Minnesota Department of Health learned that a man was hospitalized multiple times in a short period after showing symptoms such as fever, severe muscle pain, swelling around the eyes, and other concerning health problems.

Upon further investigation, it emerged that the 29-year-old man had attended a family reunion in South Dakota before becoming ill. At this gathering, one of the meals included skewers made with black bear meat from northern Saskatchewan by a family member.

According to the CDC report, the meat had been stored in a freezer for a month and a half before being thawed and was initially served rare, due to its darker color. Family members noticed the undercooked taste and recooked it before serving it again. The bear meat was consumed by nine family members in total.

The 29-year-old man became seriously ill and had to be taken to hospital, where doctors discovered he had a rare type of worm called trichinellosis, which usually comes from eating wild animals. This worm can travel through the body and even reach the brain.

Dr. Celine Gounder explained to CBS that symptoms of a brain worm infection can include nausea, vomiting, headaches and seizures. However, some may not experience any symptoms. Dr. Gounder noted that the immune system typically surrounds parasites and turns them into hard, calcified structures, preventing them from spreading further through the body.

According to the CDC, the best way to ensure elimination of these parasites is to properly cook meat to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. They also warned that parasites could spread to other foods and advised avoiding cross-contamination.

Five other family members, including a 12-year-old girl, were also diagnosed with freeze-resistant worms. They were treated with a drug called albendazole, which prevents the worms from absorbing energy and eventually kills them.

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