Outdoors blog

Parasites are natural in ducks, fish; but they're still nasty

The condition called sarcocystosis, also known as rice breast, involves a rice-size parasite that causes the infection in a variety of wild and domestic animals. When reported in North America, it’s most common in waterfowl, especially dabbling ducks. (Courtesy)
The condition called sarcocystosis, also known as rice breast, involves a rice-size parasite that causes the infection in a variety of wild and domestic animals. When reported in North America, it’s most common in waterfowl, especially dabbling ducks. (Courtesy)

HUNTING/FISHING -- My outdoors column this week discusses some of the disturbing parasites waterfowl hunters and anglers have discovered in the ducks and fish they've harvested in the Inland Northwest.

They're natural; been around for a long time, and in most cases the game and fish are still safe to eat -- as far as we know -- as long as you cook the meat to at least 180 degrees.

But would I eat visibly parasitized meat?  What do you think?

  • Waterfowlers: The photo above shows a mallard infested with the sarcocystis parasite, better known as "rice breast." 
  • Fishermen: Click on the document attached to this blog post to see the pamphlet "Common Parasites and Diseases in Washington Fish," prepared by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Hunters note that the meat of rabbits, bears and cougars also must be thoroughly cooked to prevent exposure to serious diseases: tularemia and trichinosis.



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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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