Party Served Wild Boar Meat, and Guests Got This Rare Infection

September 28, 2018

It sounded like a fun party with friends, family and food. But after this particular celebration in Northern California, more than a dozen guests got sick, with fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and many ended up in the hospital, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The culprit: trichomoniasis, a parasitic disease rarely seen in the United States and caused by worms found in meat – especially pork.

According to the report, the gathering featured several pork dishes, including a traditional Laotian dish called larb, in which the pork was eaten raw. The meat came from domestic wild boars that were raised and slaughtered on the owner’s family farm.

Health officials in Alameda County east of San Francisco first heard of the outbreak when a doctor in the area notified authorities that a patient attending a party was suspected of having trichomoniasis.

A public health investigation found that a total of 12 guests had contracted trichomoniasis after the party. (The party was held on Dec. 28, 2016, and attendees became ill between the party date and Jan. 23, 2017).

Nine people required hospitalization, including two who required treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Complications associated with the illnesses included sepsis, acute kidney injury and gastrointestinal bleeding, according to the report. All the guests survived the illness, the report said.

Health officials tested the raw pork from the wild boar served at the party and found it tested positive for trichomonas, the roundworm that causes the disease. The boar reportedly ate only commercial feed, but it may have also consumed small animals such as chicks that made their way into the pig pen and may have been the source of the trichomonas, according to the report.

Trichomoniasis (also known as trichomoniasis) was once relatively common in the United States, with about 360 cases per year in the 1940s and 1950s. But thanks to improvements in agriculture and food processing standards, the disease is now much rarer, with only about 14 cases reported each year from 2006 to 2015, according to the CDC.

However, the disease remains a risk, especially among people who consume raw or undercooked game meat or pork from non-commercial sources, the report said.

Health officials informed event hosts and guests of the risks associated with consuming raw meat. The event host was told that to reduce the risk of trichomoniasis when eating pigs from his farm, he should freeze the raw meat for 30 days and cook the meat to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius).

The event host said he had served raw pork at previous gatherings and no one had gotten sick before. The host said he would not serve raw pork from pigs on his farm in the future, though it was unclear if he would avoid raw meat altogether. Several patients told health officials that they would no longer eat raw meat, according to the report.

“Cultural practices involving the consumption of raw meat may place certain groups at higher risk for trichomonas infection,” the report said.” The researchers concluded that “public health, agriculture and wildlife authorities should increase their efforts to educate private farmers, hunters and communities whose cultural practices include raw meat consumption about cultural competency in trichomoniasis prevention.”