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9 People Die From Food Poisoning After Eating Turtles Considered Local Delicacy

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Eight children and one adult are dead after eating sea turtle meat on Pemba Island in the Zanzibar Archipelago of Tanzania. Another 78 people have been treated at regional hospitals after consuming sea turtle meat, considered a local delicacy. The government has attempted to educate people on why eating sea turtles is not a good idea.

This is not the first time that people have died on the island after consuming sea turtles. In 2021, other people died after eating sea turtles, including a mother and child.

In that case, the mother passed the food poisoning to the child through her breast milk.

People are getting sick from eating sea turtles because they have chelonitoxism on their bodies. While not harmful to the turtles themselves, these toxins can be deadly to humans. The government has tried to educate residents before about the effects of eating sea turtle meat or turtle eggs, but they say they will increase their educational efforts.

Food poisoning from eating sea turtles can produce many different symptoms. In its mildest form, chelonitoxism commonly triggers symptoms like mild nausea and headaches, but its effects can escalate to more severe manifestations, including persistent vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle weakness.

In some cases, individuals may even experience life-threatening complications such as coma or death.

Types of Food Poisoning

Doctors divide food poisoning into four large groups. Chelonitoxism is an example of toxin-mediated food poisoning. People who have dined on shellfish and gotten sick may have had toxin-mediated food poisoning. Paralytic shellfish poisoning, amnesic shellfish poisoning), and neurotoxic shellfish poisoning are examples.

Some people may get Haff disease in Russia and the United States after consuming fish carrying toxins. In Japan, chefs undergo special training so that people do not get sick from toxins carried by pufferfish. In Jamaica, dishes prepared with ackee fruit, a member of the soapberry family, are considered a delicacy, but eating unripe ackee fruit can cause a person to get sick.

In India, consuming lychee fruit that has not been adequately prepared can cause toxic-mediated food poisoning.

Another major group of food poisoning is parasitic food poisoning. This type of food poisoning often happens because food was improperly prepared or stored. For example, giardia lamblia usually occurs when people encounter water where water has been contaminated by feces carrying this parasite.


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