A Lower Kalskag man who died Friday will undergo an autopsy, after residents told Alaska State Troopers he had eaten fermented fish.
Troopers were informed just after 2:30 p.m. of 59-year-old Allen Nook’s death at his home, according to a Monday AST dispatch.
“Nook complained of feeling sick and seeing double,” troopers wrote. “Nook was found unresponsive on (Friday) at approximately (2:10 p.m.) by a local community member in his residence in Lower Kalskag. Local medical personnel responded to the scene and at approximately (2:30 p.m.), Nook was pronounced dead.”
AST spokesperson Megan Peters says that despite locals’ account of the incident, Nook’s cause of death has not been confirmed.
“People told us that he ate that and he became ill afterward,” Peters said. “That’s for the (state medical examiner) to determine.”
Louisa Castrodale, an epidemiologist with the state Department of Health and Social Services, says state officials became involved with the case when attending physicians reported it to them, as required under state law for botulism and certain other symptoms.
Castrodale says the DHSS investigation is focused on determining the source of any contamination that may have occurred, as well as preventing its further spread to anyone else who may have consumed the same foods.
"We're working on it," Castrodale said. "The investigation is still ongoing -- part of the investigation is trying to figure out what other people were involved, and there are other people involved."
More DHSS information on botulism is available from the department's Botulism in Alaska monograph, as well as prevention messages circulated by the department (PDF) and a YouTube video.
Troopers say no foul play is suspected in Nook’s death, and his next of kin have been notified.
This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.