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Lychee Fruit ID'd as Cause of Deadly Mystery Illness in Indian Children

Image: Lychee Fruit ID'd as Cause of Deadly Mystery Illness in Indian Children

The lychee fruit may to be blame for a deadly illness affecting a number of Indian children for the last 20 years. (Grondin Franck Olivier/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Feb 2017 05:01 PM

The lychee fruit has been identified as the cause of hundreds of illnesses, sometimes deadly, involving young children in one Indian town.

After wondering for more than 20 years about the source of an illness that caused fevers, seizures, and convulsions in young children in May and June and killed about a third of those who became ill, it is believed the lychee fruit caused the encephalitis-like illness, according to CNN Health.

A report published in The Lancet Global Health journal said that when children eat lychees, then don’t eat an evening meal, it can cause blood glucose levels to drop dangerously. Children who ingested lychee seeds were more likely to become ill because the body can't use create and glucose well when the toxins are present, CNN reported.

Two-thirds of the ill children had the seed toxins in their systems, the study found.

Muzaffarpur, Bihar, is a major lychee farming region in India, the country’s largest. Children living in that area often spend the day at orchards eating large amounts of lychees, CNN noted, then come home not hungry for anything else.

Similar outbreaks of illness have been reported in other areas where lychees are grown, such as West Bengal, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. A genetic component may also be involved, since often only one or two children in each village develop the illness, CNN said.

Children were tested for pesticides and insecticides, but none were found in their systems.

Since 1995, about 390 children developed the mysterious illness in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, and 122 of those died from the disease.

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The lychee fruit has been identified as the cause of hundreds of illnesses, sometimes deadly, involving young children in one Indian town.
lychee, fruit, deadly, illness, india, children
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2017-01-01
Wednesday, 01 Feb 2017 05:01 PM
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