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BY Francis Akhalbey, 10:50am March 11, 2024,

Zanzibar: 8 children among 9 dead after consuming sea turtle meat, over 70 others hospitalized

Nine people died and 78 others were hospitalized after eating sea turtle meat -- Photo Credit: pixabay.com

Officials in the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar said 9 people died while 78 others were hospitalized after they consumed sea turtle meat. According to The Associated Press, the incident happened on Pemba Island, which is part of the Zanzibar archipelago.

Mkoani District medical officer, Dr. Haji Bakari, told the news outlet that the victims ate the poisonous meat on Tuesday. The people of Zanzibar reportedly regard sea turtle meat as a delicacy, though there are periodic reports of individuals dying of chelonitoxism after consuming it. 

Per the National Library of Medicine, chelonitoxism is “caused by eating sea turtle meat contaminated with chelonitoxins, which are thought to accumulate from the environment without affecting the turtle.”

“Initially, gastrointestinal symptoms occur, followed by neurologic, hepatic and renal toxicity. Breastfed infants have been affected by maternal poisoning, including some deaths,” the NLM adds. “Mothers suspected of having chelonitoxin poisoning should not breastfeed until they have recovered.”

Eight of the nine victims who died after consuming the sea turtle meat were children. The other deceased victim was a mother whose child was also among the dead children, Dr. Bakari said, adding that laboratory tests established the sea turtle meat was eaten by all the victims.

In the wake of the incident, authorities in the archipelago sent a disaster management team to advise people to refrain from eating sea turtle meat. Seven people in November 2021 died under similar circumstances while three other people who also ate the poisonous meat were admitted to the hospital, The Associated Press reported. That incident similarly occurred on Pemba Island.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 11, 2024


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