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South Dakotans among those infected with brain worms from consuming bear meat

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Some family members from South Dakota, Minnesota and Arizona were infected with brain worms, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released Thursday, May 23.

Nine family members attended a family gathering in South Dakota in 2022, where they consumed the black bear meat cut into kebobs.

One of the family members had harvested the bear in northern Saskatchewan. The meat was stored in a freezer for more than a month before being prepared. However, larvae and/or worms are freeze-resistant.

When family members began eating the kebobs, they noticed it was undercooked. The bear meat was recooked and served again. Three of the family members had only consumed vegetables at the meal, but the meat could have already cross contaminated the other food that was served.

A few weeks later in July 2022, one of the family members was hospitalized with a fever, severe muscle soreness and swelling around the eyes. Physicians diagnosed him with trichinellosis.

Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, headaches and seizures.

Trichinellosis is roundworm which is rare to be found in humans. Humans usually get this from consuming undercooked wild game. Once the larvae get inside the body, they move to muscle tissue and organs, including the brain.

Seven additional family members, including a 12-year-old girl were diagnosed with the worms. Three of the seven were hospitalized and treated with a medication called albendazole which kills the worms.

Some people who contract the worms have no symptoms as their immune system kills them.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, who is running for United States President in 2024, earlier disclosed that he suffers from cognitive issues after a parasitic worm ate a portion of his brain.

The CDC stated up to one-quarter of black bears in Canada and Alaska could be infected. They advise to cook the meat to an internal temperate of 165 degrees or higher. The CDC warns the meat can also cross-contaminate other foods.

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