Venison sushi salmonella case in Hawai`i

A bad case of salmonella poisoning suffered by a 65-year old Honolulu who ate raw venison sushi is the first documented case of its kind in Hawai`i and offers a reminder to physicians (and their patients) that there are many potential local sources of foodborne illness.

In the case, reported in the new edition of the Hawai`i Journal of Medicine and Public Health, the source of the illness is identified as venison, or deer meat, from the island of Lana`i.

A University of Hawai`i at M?noa press release quotes the article as saying, “In Hawai‘i, it has long been known that certain animals and animal products have a higher propensity to carry salmonella, particularly Hawaiian hogs and chickens. However, a search of the literature did not find data to implicate the local deer population as a source for foodborne illness.”

“The ethnic and cultural diversity of Hawai`i affords a cuisine with ample opportunities to eat raw or undercooked food, including sushi, ceviche, oysters, and clams,” wrote the researchers. “Game meat, including deer on Lana`i, is readily available to hunters. Clinicians in Hawai`i should remain alert and aware of the potential local sources of food borne illness. The deer population of Hawai‘i can potentially harbor foodborne pathogens. All persons should be reminded to thoroughly cook game meat and always adhere to safe food handling practices.”