Published On:February 2, 2017, 2:11 pm
Ever since 1995, a mysterious illness has blighted the town of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, India. Every year around May and June, huge group of children would subsequently start showing signs of fever and weakness. They did have convulsions and seizures, prior to getting unconscious.
Hundreds of children were admitted to hospital in 2014, showcasing symptoms of this particular illness, locally called ‘Chamki ki bimari’, or ‘tinsel disease’. Out of the total 390 children admitted, almost half died and thereby baffling the doctors.
There was an extensive research done by the team of researchers and medical experts to determine the cause, however none to avail until now.
On Tuesday, a new and latest report published in the medical journal ‘The Lancet Global Health’ affirms strongly that the reason behind this devastating disease is the poisoning done by the fruit Lychee or Litchi.
Indian and the Unites States scientists state that the mystery illness which was responsible for more than 100 children’s death in northern India was caused by consuming litchis on an empty stomach.3
Malnourishment, heat, humidity, the pesticides and the monsoon were all thought to be at one point factors that contributed to the illness, which resembled encephalitis symptomatically, a disease which leads to inflammation of the brain.
India's National Centre for Disease Control and medical researchers from the United States Centers of Disease Control and Prevention compared the test results of children who acquired the mysterious illness, and the children who did not.
Spinal fluid samples and blood analysis showed no signs of exposure or infection to insecticides and chemicals. Nevertheless, most children who fell sick had consumed litchi fruit. Also, according to the study, they were six times more probable to have visited a fruit orchard in the last 24 hours.
Muzaffarpur in Bihar is the largest litchi farming region in India. The study also stated that according to the parents the children in the affected villages spent most of their time eating litchis from the farm directly.
These children were uninterested in eating meals after returning home. Children who fell sick were twice prone to have skipped dinner and this, the researchers termed as ‘night-time hypoglycaemia’. It meant that their blood sugar levels dropped and the body started to metabolize fatty acids to generate required boost of energy.
But, the urine samples taken from the ill children showed that two-thirds of the children possessed evidence of toxin exposure that are exclusively found in litchis, and that too in higher amount in the unripe fruits.
The toxins lead to severe impairment of glucose synthesis, according to the study. This would eventually result in alarmingly low blood sugar and inflammation of the brain in children.
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