3 members of NZ family stricken with botulism from wild boar: 1 has begun to ‘mouth words’

The oldest member of a South Waikato family struck down by suspected botulism poisoning has begun to mouth words, a spokesman says.

Shibu Kochummen, 35, his wife Subi Babu, 33, and his mother Alekutty Daniel, 62, ate a wild boar curry for dinner two weeks ago at their Putaruru home.

Within minutes of eating, Babu and Daniel collapsed, vomiting. Kochummen called an ambulance but collapsed while on the phone.

The trio have been in a serious but stable condition in Waikato Hospital for the past two weeks and at the weekend Daniel became “slightly responsive”, having co-ordinated eye movement and the ability to focus.

“No one has spoken but we are beginning to get focus on movement,” family spokesman Joji Varghese earlier told Belinda Feek of the New Zealand Herald.

He confirmed today that Daniel was now beginning to mouth words but she wasn’t yet talking.

Subi Babu was also making progress but not as much as her mother-in-law.

Shibu Kochummen has yet to respond.

Varghese said doctors did not know if Daniel’s ability to follow an object with her eyes meant she was comprehending yet and they were still awaiting results of tests being conducted in Brisbane to definitively diagnose botulism.

Of course it came from Missouri; trichinellosis caused by consumption of wild boar meat — Illinois, 2013

It sounds like something Amy would have eaten when she was a kid. Maybe that’s why she’s still attracted to me – there’s a parasitic worm affecting her cognitive abilities.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that on March 6, 2013, the Cook County Department of Public Health (Chicago, Illinois) contacted the Illinois Department of Public Health regarding a diagnosis of trichinellosis in a patient who had consumed wild boar and deer meat obtained by hunting at a Missouri ranch January 16–18. Trichinellosis is a parasitic infection caused by consumption of undercooked infected meat, most commonly from carnivorous or omnivorous animals (1).

he_WildBoarThe Cook County and Illinois health departments and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services queried the Illinois and Missouri electronic reportable disease registries and interviewed patients to identify additional cases and describe patients’ clinical characteristics. CDC performed immunoglobulin G enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay testing of patient serum and microscopically examined the meat for evidence of Trichinella larvae.

Patient interviews revealed that the index patient had ground the wild boar and deer meat into sausage and served it to three family members who had participated in the hunt. The sausage was shared with a friend and the friend’s four family members, none of whom had participated in the hunt. A case was defined as illness in a person who consumed the implicated meat and had positive serology or myalgias. Nine cases were identified. All nine persons had consumed the implicated sausage during January 20–February 16 and experienced illness compatible with trichinellosis during February 13–March 4; three of six tested had a positive serologic test for antibodies specific to Trichinella within 7 days of symptom onset. No one else consumed the sausage, and no additional cases were identified from electronic disease registries.

Among the nine cases, five occurred among men (median age = 35 years; range = 20–54 years), and the median incubation period was 16 days (range = 4–24 days). All patients reported myalgias, eight had periorbital edema, and seven had both fever and eosinophilia. Trichinella spiralis larvae were identified microscopically in the sausage but not in the deer meat, indicating that the boar meat was the likely source. All patients were treated solely with albendazole and recovered without complications.

Trichinellosis cases remain infrequent in the United States because of state and federal laws preventing feeding of uncooked swill to commercial swine and public awareness of the danger of eating raw or undercooked game meat. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services provided additional education to employees of the ranch about the risk for Trichinella ingestion and the need to inform hunting patrons. The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends posting advisories at hunting ranches that inform hunters of the importance of cooking game meat to the cooking temperature of 71°C (160°F) recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and CDC before consuming it (2).

Boar gore

Ashley Chaifetz, a PhD student studying public policy at UNC-Chapel Hill writes,

Marco Island, Florida police recently killed a wild boar running down a boardwalk towards beach as fearful beach-goers watched. In an effort to utilize the carcass for good, the dead boar was subsequently donated to the St. Matthews House, an organization that provides food and housing for those in need. Michael Braun of the News-Press writes that the dead boar was delivered and would be sent out for processing.bilde

“When someone donates wild game we will try to use it to feed the residents,” he said, adding that donations of wild game or fish are made to the organization several times a year.

“People find different ways to donate,” Burns said. “When we get a donation we try to put it to good use.”

The pig will be sent to a local hog farmer who will then process the meat. Following the completion of all regulated inspections and preparation guidelines, Burns said, chefs with SMH Catering will use the meat as a meal option for shelter residents and Justin’s Place Recovery Program participants.

It is legal to hunt hog in Florida, as long as they are killed humanely. They can be found in all 67 counties. Wild hogs can carry Brucella and Salmonella amongst other pathogens – all of which can be addressed by paying attention in carcass/meat handling and cooking. Eating an undercooked hog or boar (or dressing it without gloves) increases risk of a brucellosis infection. Since the volunteers at St. Matthew’s house aren’t likely trained in processing or meat hygiene, sending the carcass out for expert attention is a good idea.

Wild Boar population explodes in Germany: Plenty of bacon to go around

The New York Times reports “the wild boar is multiplying and less lovable.” I’m pretty sure the closest boars got to lovable was in the Lion King, and even then: not so lovable (and not a terrific singer either). Germany has its hands full with the wild boar population. Normally, the worst thing one of Germany’s wild boars will do is ruin a field of corn, which is one of their favorite foods. Lately, however, as their population has exploded scientists estimate that it increased by 320 percent in Germany in the last year alone — the pigs have been having more and more encounters with humans. Wild boars cause extensive damage to crops and property, but also have the potential be deadly to people that come upon them.  But if they don’t kill you immediately, they could be carrying bugs that will get you later.  Wild hogs are carriers of diseases such as anthrax, brucellosis, pseudorabies and tuberculosis.

If they don’t eat all of the crops while scavenging, they could be leaving behind E. coli in their feces, which was the likely situation in 2006 when contaminated spinach from California took three lives and made over 200 ill.  These buggers are so destructive that fencing off crops is useless; the pigs plow right through them.  I’d love to see if there’s any data out there correlating E.coli cases in Germany with the increasing populations of wild boars.

Currently an estimated 2 million to 2.5 million boars roam the forests, suburbs and maize fields of Germany. No national program seems to be set up to eradicate this problem, but local hunters do their best by enjoying a roasted leg of wild boar once in awhile.