Q&A: Flukes in Green Tripe?

Member Question: Good morning! I just took out my ingredients for self-prepared food prep for my dog Sadie. I discovered this morning that there what appears to be worms (frozen) in the green tripe (see photo attached). Is this safe to feed her or should I throw out? – D.L.

Answer: Hi Debbie, Thank you for inquiring and sending the photo so that we can help advise you on this — please feel free to do so any time!

Sorry if this alarmed you in any way, but these appear to me to be a natural occurrence/texture abnormality we see sometimes in healthy green tripe.

However, if you are concerned that it is indeed a possible rumen fluke/parasite, the good news is that this parasite found in rumen such as this is not at all a health risk to humans, dogs or cats. Even if we consume the rumen fluke found in the tripe of a ruminant animal, fresh and living.

This is because this parasite cannot survive in our bodies or the digestive systems of dogs/cats. For our carnivores (dogs/cats), there is no risk. Carnivores have a much shorter and much differently arranged digestive system compared to ruminant animals: sheep, cattle, goat, bison, venison/deer, elk, antelope, water buffalo, to name a few (some of the many proteins that we keep in stock at SFRAW).

This chart is quite limited and certainly not the full story of the differences between carnivores and herbivores – with ruminants being even more specialized – but does cover some basic points of distinction between these types of digestive system categories.

Humans would actually need to consume an infected living snail during the right period in the life cycle…yet, even under these circumstances, the possibility of the snail infecting us is essentially zero since we are not natural hosts for this parasite.

Dogs, with their carnivorous digestive system, would be even less susceptible due to their digestive systems being so completely different from ruminants.

Added Safety Tip: Freezing actually kills these flukes completely – so they are totally inert and not a risk to anyone after being properly frozen.

This graphic doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the primary and important differences — but you can see that just these few aspects of the two digestive systems are quite different.

Thus, you may choose to feed or remove/discard of this section based on your comfort level. Please find more information and photo for you to review next…

Rumen fluke on this sample of green tripe (from the UK) can be seen as the pink/red colored shape.

Great information was provided in the below Facebook post from DogsFirst posted March 2014: “Rumen fluke live in the rumen of the animal (a.k.a the tripe, which is the big pouch that holds all the grass the animal eats, 1 part of a multi-chambered stomach). These little suckers are just like liver fluke, small slug-like parasitic worms, about the size of a match head. They can heavily populate and ultimately kill their host.

Are rumen flukes a risk to humans or pets? No. The fluke needs an intermediary (the snail) to hatch their eggs in. Just eating the worms or eggs won’t do it. And they’re not cows, though many parasites have popped up in different species and in different places. Long story, but the fact is lots of dogs have been fed green tripe with flukes attached in great numbers yet there are zero reported cases or issues of dogs becoming infected. Your dog would have to poo out the eggs (which he very possibly does) near a particular type of snail in the garden, then come back and eat that snail. Even then the worm egg would have to pop out of his little case inside a dog’s intestines and not the far more ideal cow’s stomach. If livestock is infected with stomach flukes, they are not contagious for humans, neither through contact, nor after consuming meat, milk or blood of contaminated animals. The same applies to pets. Paramphistomum species are not parasitic for humans. This issue is more common with Irish/UK (less common in the US) farmers and cattle are being affected during wet weather conditions. The fluke spend their intermediate stage in a tiny snail that lives in wet grass/ground. The wetter the better, so this can be a seasonal issue in some areas during wet weather.

Additional information on the risk and consumption of these flukes can be found here – see abstract below:

Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2014 Jan;45(1):26-30.
Human consumption of rumen flukes of cattle in India.
Sarmah PCLaha RBhattacharjee KGoswami ARaquib MKakati P.

“HUMAN CONSUMPTION OF RUMEN FLUKES OF CATTLE IN INDIA The practice of eating rumen flukes from cattle by a section of people living in Meghalaya, a north eastern State of India, is reported in this communication Economically backward, some rural people belonging to Khasi, Jaintia, Garo, and Karbi tribes of Christian and Nepali communities who eat beef are accustomed to consuming cooked flukes during breakfast, meals, and also along with rice beer or alcohol. Inspection of the rumens of cattle during slaughter indicated a prevalence of flukes belonging to Cotylophoron, Paramphistomum, Calicophoron, Gastrothylax and Fischoederius genera in 74% cases, and their collection from rumen ranged approximately from 50g to 600g. Biochemical analysis of flukes found 12.60% total protein, 0.78% fat, and 0.87% ash on fresh weight basis. High prevalence of flukes, easy visualization in rumen, their bulk collection, presence of nutritive value, absence of any ill effect, and lack of imminent danger of transmissible are believed to be the rationales influencing their consumption by people. It is suggested that dietary benefits obtained from flukes might contribute to the energy transfer and inclusion in the food web.”

Hope this helps!