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8 children, 1 adult die after eating sea turtle meat on remote African island | health news


In a tragic incident on Pemba Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, eight children and one adult have lost their lives, while dozens have been hospitalized after eating sea turtle meat – a local delicacy despite its well-known dangers. The devastating incident took place on March 5 and was reported by the popular Instagram news page ‘Pubity’.

According to a report shared on news portal Metro, a total of 78 people were hospitalized due to food poisoning after consuming the food. Dr. Makwani district medical officer Haji Bakari confirmed the link between the illness and eating turtle meat.

Despite being considered a delicacy in the region, sea turtle meat poses significant health risks. Lab tests confirmed that all infected individuals had consumed sea turtle meat. The meat is said to taste like beef, with a texture that can be roughly compared to squid or alligator.

Dr. Bakari explained that the poisoning is caused by a type of food poisoning known as chelonitoxicism, which can be caused by turtles eating poisonous algae. This rare and sometimes fatal form of food poisoning causes gastrointestinal symptoms, followed by neurologic, hepatic, and renal toxicity.

The archipelago’s authorities sent a disaster management team to Pemba and urged people to avoid eating sea turtles. The incident echoes a similar tragedy in 2021, where seven people, including a three-year-old, died on Pemba Island after eating turtle meat, the report said.

Cases of sea turtle meat poisoning have also occurred in Indonesia, Micronesia, and the Indian Ocean islands of India. Unfortunately, there is no known antidote for this type of venom.

This heartbreaking incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with eating sea turtle meat, which can lead to severe food poisoning and potentially fatal consequences, especially for children and the elderly.

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