Family Gathering Turns Dire As Six Contract Brain Worms From Black Bear Meat

A family gathering in May 2022 took a bad turn when six relatives contracted brain worms after consuming undercooked black bear meat.

The gathering, which took place in South Dakota, involved nine extended family members who shared a meal of grilled kebabs made from vegetables and black bear meat. The meat had been harvested by one of the family members in northern Saskatchewan, Canada.

During the meal, some family members noticed the bear meat was undercooked and decided to cook it further. However, six days later, a 29-year-old man who had attended the gathering was hospitalized with symptoms including fever, severe muscle pain, and swelling around the eyes.

Investigations revealed that the man had contracted trichinellosis, a disease caused by a parasitic roundworm infection. The roundworms, also known as “brain worms,” can migrate through the body, potentially causing inflammation of the heart muscle and brain, leading to seizures.

In total, six of the nine family members who attended the gathering were infected, ranging in age from 12 to 62. Four had eaten the bear meat, while two had only consumed vegetables cooked with the meat. Three of the infected individuals required hospitalization but ultimately recovered.

The CDC warns that while freezing can kill some Trichinella worms, others are freeze-resistant, emphasizing the importance of thoroughly cooking wild game to prevent infection.