Right after my writing up yesterday’s post, I began the process of dressing my quarry. Upon field dressing my black duck, things didn’t quite look right. Both breasts were impregnated with small white objects that resembled rice. My personal philosophy with questionable game is “when in doubt, toss it out” and that's exactly what I did. But this issue remained at the core of my undying process to know everything before I die, so I then began the almighty search of answers to my questions. So here goes...
I started by searching for parasites that affect ducks and quickly made way to this protozoan parasite named sarcocystis. After comparing several pictures online to my photo, it became apparent that I was getting close to determining the cause of avian rice meat. However, this disease is distributed world wide and found in a variety of animal species which led me to consider this question, “Is this common in Maine and am I at risk since I dressed the animal?”.
This morning I wrote to the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife with a description of my findings and was responded to in a timely fashion. Sure enough it was Sarcocystis, or “Rice Breast Disease”. It isn’t common in Maine, but does occur in waterfowl as Sarcocystis rileyi when duck either feed or drink from water that has the eggs of the parasite. Here is a good link to read up on this topic. Click Here
For my safety, it looks like I’m okay especially after cleaning up well once I discovered the problem. It has been suggested that you can still cook the meat very well and still digest the meat, but I’m not sure anybody would be interested in trying Parasite Infested Duck.
The hen taken at the same time had no evidence of being infected.