Bear Meat Mishap: Trichinellosis Outbreak Strikes Family Reunion
By angelamontana

Posted: May 28, 2024

According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the CDC, in July 2022, a family gathering turned into a health scare as a 29-year-old man from Minnesota landed in the hospital with symptoms of fever, muscle pain, and swelling around his eyes. Suspecting trichinellosis, health providers dug into his medical history and discovered a potential culprit: bear meat.

Trichinellosis is a parasitic zoonotic disease transmitted through the consumption of meat from animals infected with Trichinella spp. nematodes. In North America, human trichinellosis is rare and is most commonly acquired through consumption of wild game meat.

The man had attended a family reunion in South Dakota where bear meat kabobs were served. Unfortunately, the meat had been undercooked due to its dark color, making it hard to gauge doneness. Despite recooking after the oversight was noted, it was too late for some.

Interviews and tests revealed that several family members, across states like Arizona, Minnesota, and South Dakota, fell ill after consuming the bear meat. Trichinellosis cases, confirmed and probable, ranged from ages 12 to 62, prompting health authorities to step in and investigate.

Thankfully, all affected individuals eventually recovered, but the incident shed light on the dangers of undercooked meat and the importance of proper food handling. This case serves as a reminder to always ensure thorough cooking, especially when dealing with game meats like bear.  If this doesn’t make you want to get a meat thermometer, I don’t know what will!

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