US Family Infected With Brain Worms After Eating Undercooked Bear Meat

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An American family that shared a meal of bear meat at a gathering was infected with brain worms, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said. 

The Minnesota Department of Health in 2022 learnt about a man hospitalised multiple times within a short period after showing symptoms such as fever, severe muscle soreness, swelling around the eyes, and other troubling health issues. 

Upon further investigation, it came to light that the 29-year-old had attended a family gathering in South Dakota before he took sick. At this gathering, one of the meals included kabobs made from black bear meat sourced 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 out and was initially served rare, due to its darker colour. Family members noticed the undercooked taste and recooked it before serving again. The bear meat was eaten by nine family members in total.

The 29-year-old man got severely sick and had to be taken to the hospital where doctors found he had a rare kind of roundworm 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 brain worm infection may include nausea, vomiting, headaches and seizures. However, some may not experience any symptoms at all. Dr Gounder noted that typically, the immune system surrounds the parasites and turns them into hard, calcified structures, which prevents them from spreading further in the body. 

According to the CDC, the best way to ensure these parasites are killed is by cooking the meat properly at, at least 165 degree Fahrenheit. They also warned the parasites could spread to other foods, advising to avoid cross-contamination.

Five other family members, including a 12-year-old girl, were also diagnosed with freeze-resistant worms. They were treated with a medicine called albendazole, which stops the worms from absorbing energy, ultimately killing them.