Nunavik health board warns of possible botulism exposure in Inukjuak
Cases related to fermented walrus meat consumed at recent feasts in the community
More than 27 people in Inukjuak may have been exposed to botulism after consuming contaminated walrus meat served at two recent feasts in the community.
The Nunavik regional health board made the announcement on its Facebook page on Saturday.
“There may still be contaminated [meat] in the community,” said the board.
“In situations like this, the meat from that source should be destroyed.”
The best way to destroy meat contaminated with botulism is to burn it, according to the health board.
The board is warning people to verify where their walrus meat came from before eating it, to make sure it’s not from the contaminated source.
The botulism bacteria is found naturally in walrus, seals, and sometimes whales, according to the Nunavut Health Department’s information guide on country foods.
The botulism bacterium isn’t harmful, but it gives off toxins under certain conditions.
The toxins don’t give off any flavours or scents, making them harder to detect, and can be destroyed when cooked, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Botulism poisoning can lead to serious illness or death if left untreated. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weakness, dry mouth, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, and speech and vocal problems.
The Nunavik health board says anyone with these symptoms should seek medical attention.
There are a few suspected cases of botulism each year in Nunavik, the board said. It recommends people store meat from sea mammals below 4 C.