Game, both feathered and furred, has always been very appreciated in Spain. Any of it is enjoyable, but leaving gastronomic questions to one side, there is one kind of game that should be examined more closely because of health concerns: wild boar. This is because if special precautions are not taken, wild boar meat, the same as pig meat, may transmit tapeworm to humans.
Hydatid disease or Echinococcosis is a parasitic disease caused by eating meat infected by the larvae of a small parasite called a tapeworm. Echinococcosis outbreaks are not very frequent in Spain, although there is usually at least one a year with up to twenty infected persons.
The clinical signs in humans are very variable, and depend on various factors. But it can become a very serious, even deadly, disease. It has the doubtful honour of being one of the possible causes of the death of the famous composer W.A.Mozart.
chinococcosis is mainly transmitted by eating undercooked meat, cured ham, or sausages such as chorizo. Tapeworm larvae are able to survive curing and salting, and are viable for a long time in these foods. Cases in Spain are now caused by eating the meat of wild boars hunted without control and, to a lesser degree, of pigs slaughtered at home that have not been subjected to the obligatory veterinary inspection.
If you eat products purchased from your regular retailer and they come from authorized businesses, it is highly unlikely that you need to worry about this illness. But people who eat wild boar meat and meat products from animals that have been hunted privately must be aware that it is absolutely necessary to have it inspected through a microscope. This is why you should not buy nor eat products of questionable origin. You should only consume them if you are certain that they have been inspected by a veterinary surgeon. And, if you decide to eat them, there are two ways to avoid problems. One is to freeze the products for some time before eating them so the possibility of becoming infected is reduced. Another is to cook meat sufficiently, since high temperatures get rid of tapeworms.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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