1 woman dead, 1 in hospital with botulism after eating whale meat in Inukjuak

The director of public health for the Nunavik region has confirmed one woman died and her daughter is recovering from botulism believed to come from beluga.

Lab results expected to confirm source of botulism this weekend or early next week

One woman is dead and another is in hospital after eating beluga meat in Inukjuak, Que.

The 54 year-old woman was reported dead early Saturday morning. Her daughter, 30, is being treated in Montreal. 

Dr. Francoise Bouchard, the director of public health for the Nunavik region, based in Kuujjuaq, said both cases have been diagnosed as botulism.

"It is probably from beluga meat," she said, noting that laboratory results will confirm that either this weekend or next week. 

In the meantime, she's advising people in the community not to eat beluga — whether frozen, dried or cooked — until lab results are returned. 

Botulism is caused by a toxin that is produced by bacteria that is present in the environment.

Symptoms can include severe vomiting, difficulty breathing and swallowing and overall weakness. It can also lead to complete paralysis and death.

Bouchard said Nunavimmiut are, in general, careful when eating wild food, and cases of botulism are now rare compared to the past.

"But with the climate getting warmer in our communities every year, there's a need to be more careful now in conservation and preservation of those traditional foods."

With files from Eva Michael