Cases Of 'Brain Worms' Reported Among Family Who Ate Surprising Meat

By Jason Hall

May 25, 2024

Empty Hospital Bed in a Ward
Photo: Getty Images

Cases of "brain worms" were reported among a family that ate bear kebobs at a reunion in 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday (May 23).

Six of eight family members reported to be between the ages of 12 and 62 years old contracted human trichinellosis, a food-borne disease rarely reported in the U.S. typically caused by the consumption of wild game. One of the family members, reported to be age 29, went to a Minnesota hospital in July 2022 with symptoms of a fever, severe muscle aches, swelling around the eyes and other abnormalities discovered in blood tests and claimed other relatives with whom he stayed with from Arizona, Minnesota and South Dakota later that summer were also hospitalized during a 17-day period.

The family reportedly ate meat from a black bear hunted by one of them in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, in May 2022. The hunter believed the meat was safe for consumption after storing it in a household freezer for 45 days prior to being cooked. The worms present in the bear kebobs would've been killed if the meat had been cooked to a temperature exceeding 165 degrees.

“The meat was initially inadvertently served rare, reportedly because the meat was dark in color, and it was difficult for the family members to visually ascertain the level of doneness,” the CDC said in its report. “After some of the family members began eating the meat and noticed that it was undercooked, the meat was recooked before being served again.”

Three of the relatives diagnosed with brain worms were hospitalized and all six have since recovered.

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