Have you heard about the incredible story with the six family members who ended up with brain worms after eating black bear meat that one of them had caught? Ugh!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine family members in South Dakota met up in May 2022 and had a feast that included grilled veggie kabobs and black bear meat. This bear meat was brought in from northern Saskatchewan, Canada by one of the family members.

Some of them thought the meat was undercooked, so they tried to give it another round on the grill but unfortunately it was too late. Six days later, a 29-year-old guy from the family ended up in the hospital with scary symptoms like fever, intense muscle pains, swelling around the eyes, and a spike in white blood cell count. Yikes!

Doctors later found out about the bear meat mishap and decided to treat him with a drug called albendazole, which is used to fight trichinellosis, a disease caused by these very little nasty roundworms.

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Even though the bear meat had been frozen, not all the Trichinella worms had  died. When the infected larvae get into their system, they turned into full-blown parasites, making their way to the heart and brain. This can cause serious trouble, including heart and brain inflammation, and even seizures.

After some research by the Minnesota Department of Health, they found out that six people from the family had been infected. Four that took a bite of the meat and two who stuck to the veggies.

Out of the people who got sick, two more ended up in hospitals and had to go through the same treatment with albendazole. The bear meat in this story was found to have Trichinella nativa, a super tough roundworm strain.

So if you're a New York hunter, before you start eating bear meat, think about this story. Black bears can carry these roundworms, with almost 25% of the black bears in Canada and Alaska possibly being infected, according to the CDC.

While cases of trichinellosis are pretty rare, the CDC only recorded seven outbreaks from January 2016 to December 2022, with around 35 probable and confirmed cases. In most of those outbreaks, bear meat ended up being the main cause.

So, if bear meat is on your menu, make sure to cook it thoroughly to an internal temp of 165 degrees to eliminate those parasites. Also, don't forget to handle raw meat separately to avoid any cross-contamination with other foods. Better yet, don't eat bear meat at all.

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