Parasite found in walrus meat in Sanikiluaq, warns health department
Cooking walrus before eating it is the only way to kill trichinella, says health release
The Nunavut Department of Health is warning residents in Sanikiluaq that a walrus has tested positive for a parasite that can affect humans and animals.
The walrus tested positive for trichinella — also known as "pork worm" — which can be found in uncooked pork products.
In a Thursday news release, the department said if residents are experiencing stomach and muscle pain, diarrhea, swollen eyelids, sweating or weakness, they could have consumed the parasite.
According to the department's fact sheet on trichinosis, sickness can begin a few days after eating infected meat and more signs can show up eight to 15 days later. If trichinosis is not treated, it can cause death.
The release says anyone who has recently eaten uncooked walrus and is experiencing symptoms should go to the health centre.
Cooking walrus before eating it is the only way to kill trichinella, the release says. Freezing or fermenting the meat will not kill the parasite.
The department is encouraging residents to ask if walrus was tested for the parasite before eating it.
Free testing for walrus tongues are available and people can contact the Hunters and Trappers Organization, a conservation officer or environmental health officer to learn more.