Walrus tongue tests positive for trichinella in Rankin Inlet

Freezing or fermenting meat will not kill trichinella; it can only be killed by cooking, GN says

Nunavut’s Department of Health is advising residents of Rankin Inlet that a walrus tongue has tested positive for trichinella. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

Health officials in Nunavut say a walrus tongue harvested near Rankin Inlet has tested positive for trichinella.

Trichinella is a parasite that can be present in some wildlife, particularly walrus and polar bears, and can be transmitted to humans who consume those animals’ meat uncooked.

Once consumed, humans can contract an infection called trichinosis, which can be fatal if untreated.

The Government of Nunavut’s health department warned the public about the positive trichinella test in a June 26 news release, but did not say whether anyone has been ill as a result of eating walrus.

If residents or visitors to Rankin Inlet have eaten any uncooked walrus recently, and have experienced stomach or muscle pain, diarrhea, swollen eyelids, sweating or weakness, they should call or visit their local health centre, the GN said.

Freezing or fermenting meat will not kill trichinella, the GN said; it can only be killed by cooking. But testing walrus meat can help prevent trichinosis in humans.

Nunavummiut who are looking for more information can call the GN’s Environmental Health Officer in the Kivallaq at 867-645-6660.

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