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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: An Outbreak of Trichinellosis Associated with Eating Cougar Jerky

Authors
item Dworkin, Mark - WASHINGTON DEPT OF HEALTH
item Gamble, Howard
item Zarlenga, Dante
item Tennican, Patrick - SACRED HEART MED CENTER

Submitted to: Journal of Infectious Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 10, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Trichinellosis in man is caused by the ingestion of raw or undercooked meat containing infective larvae. Human infection is most often associated with pork and more recently bear meat. In the present study, epidemiologists with the CDC in Washington state, local health officials and ARS scientists report on the occurrence of trichinellosis resulting from the ingestion of cougar meat, prepared as jerky. Parasites recovered from this meat were shown to be typical of wild animal types of Trichinella found in colder environments. These parasites were resistant to freezing, so consumers of this meat were not protected even though the meat had been frozen prior to being prepared. To protect against trichinellosis, hunters and others consuming game meats should be sure to cook meat thoroughly even though it might have already been processed by freezing or curing.

Technical Abstract: Trichinella species are found in virtually all warm-blooded animals. Consumption of wild-game has increased in its relative importance as a cause of trichinellosis. Published reports have included cases caused by consumption of bear, wild boar, and walrus. This outbreak investigation is the first report of cougar as the source of trichinellosis in the United States. It is notable that viable larvae were recovered from meat that had been frozen. Caution should be exercised when preparing any game meat for human consumption. Cooking meat thoroughly is an effective way of assuring that Trichinella are destroyed. Public health officials in areas with large populations of persons who consume wild game should consider education programs directed at the prevention of trichinellosis.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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