Worm disease parasite detected in Sanikiluaq walrus

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The Department of Health is advising residents in Sanikiluaq that a walrus has tested positive for trichinella, a parasite that causes worm disease.

If you have consumed uncooked walrus and experienced stomach pain, muscle pain, diarrhea, swollen eyelids, sweating and weakness, you might be infected with the trichinella parasite.

If trichinosis is not treated it can cause death.

It can be treated with medicine, but if left untreated more serious infections can interfere with the heart and lungs and cause problems with body movements.

Anyone who has eaten uncooked walrus who is experiencing those symptoms should go to the health centre, states an advisory from the department.

“Testing walrus before consumption will prevent trichinosis. Before eating walrus that someone else caught, ask if it was tested. Freezing or fermenting meat will not kill trichinella; it can only be killed by cooking,” the department states.

There is free testing available for walrus tongues.

Residents looking for additional information can contact a conservation office, the hunter trappers organization or an environmental health officer.

Trichinosis is a disease that is caused by a worm. Most of the time, animals that have this worm look healthy. Sometimes the worms are too small to see.

Sickness starts a few days after eating the infected meat.

Additional signs and symptoms can show up eight to 15 days later, including headaches, fever, chills, coughing, eye swelling, aching joints, muscle pain, diarrhea or constipation, and itchy skin.

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