All News / Outbreaks /

Igunaq (Fermented Walrus Meat) poses Botulism Risk

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services was informed of suspected cases of Botulism (qassuniq) in Inukjuak, on March 22. An investigation revealed that the cases were associated with igunaq consumed during two feasts on March 18th and March 19th. More than 27 people may have been exposed at the feasts and afterward from food later consumed at home. There may still be contaminated igunaq in the community and in situations like this, the meat from that source should be destroyed. The best way to destroy the contaminated meat would be to burn it. It’s important to identify all the meat from the suspected igunaq and be sure it’s destroyed. Before eating walrus meat, people should verify where it came from and make sure that it’s not from the same source that was given at the feasts.

Botulism (qassuniq) is a severe disease that can lead to death. There is no way of cleaning the contaminated meat and it must be destroyed. People who think they might have symptoms of botulism (qassuniq) should seek medical evaluation at their local CLSC (Nursing Station). Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, weakness, dry mouth, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), blurred vision and dysphonia/dysarthria (voice or speech disorder).

A few suspected cases of botulism (qassuniq) occur each year in Nunavik. Keeping sea mammal products at a cold temperature (below 4°C) at all times is a preventive measure. Freezing products and waiting for the cooler days of fall is recommended for making igunaq safely.

Get Help

Affected by an outbreak or recall?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

Get a free consultation
Related Resources
What is Botulism?

Botulism is a life-threatening paralytic illness caused by neurotoxins produced by an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium—Clostridium botulinum. Botulism is a rare disease and only affects a few hundred persons each...

Epidemiology and Microbiology of Botulism

C. botulinum bacteria and spores are widely distributed in nature because they are indigenous to soils and waters. They occur in both cultivated and forest soils, bottom sediment of streams...

Symptoms of Botulism

After their ingestion, botulinum neurotoxins are absorbed primarily in the duodenum and jejunum, pass into the bloodstream, and travel to synapses in the nervous system. There, the neurotoxins cause flaccid...

Detection and Treatment of Botulism

Although botulism can be diagnosed based on clinical symptoms, distinguishing it from other diseases is often difficult, especially in the absence of other known persons affected by the condition. Common...

Botulism Outcomes and Long-Term and Permanent Injury

In the past 50 years, mortality from botulism has fallen dramatically (from about 50% to 8%) because of advances in supportive care, which is the mainstay of treatment. The respiratory...

Outbreak Database

Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

View Outbreak Database