8 Children, 1 Adult Die After Getting Food Poisoning

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania — Tragedy struck the remote Pemba Island in the Zanzibar archipelago off Africa’s eastern coast as eight children and an adult lost their lives to food poisoning after consuming sea turtle meat. Local medical officer Dr. Haji Bakari confirmed that all those affected had eaten the meat, which has been identified as the cause of the illness. The incident, which occurred earlier this week, has also led to 78 individuals being hospitalized.

Sea turtle meat is considered a delicacy in Zanzibar despite the known risks. This lethal form of food poisoning, known as chelonitoxism, can cause gastrointestinal symptoms followed by neurologic, hepatic, and renal toxicity. The National Institutes of Health warns that the toxin can be transmitted to infants through breastfeeding, resulting in fatal consequences.

The victims in this recent incident were predominantly children, who are particularly vulnerable to chelonitoxism. The toxin can be passed from breastfeeding mothers to their infants, posing a significant risk to this demographic.

In response, Zanzibar authorities have sent a disaster management team to the region to educate the public about the dangers of consuming sea turtle meat and to discourage its consumption.

This incident echoes a similar event that took place in November 2021 when seven individuals, including a three-year-old, lost their lives after consuming turtle meat on Pemba Island.

Consumers are urged to be cautious and aware of the risks associated with consuming sea turtle meat, especially for those who are vulnerable, like children and breastfeeding mothers.