NewsDeadly turtle meat poisoning in Zanzibar claims 9 lives, hospitalizes 78

Deadly turtle meat poisoning in Zanzibar claims 9 lives, hospitalizes 78

9 people died and 78 others were hospitalized due to sea turtle meat poisoning.
9 people died and 78 others were hospitalized due to sea turtle meat poisoning.
Images source: © Getty Images | Werner LAYER/GAMMA-RAPHO

1:33 PM EDT, March 11, 2024

An incident involving the consumption of sea turtle meat on the island of Pemba in the Zanzibar archipelago resulted in nine fatalities, as reported by the Associated Press. The victims included eight children and one woman. On Saturday, local authorities announced that an additional 78 individuals were hospitalized. In this region, sea turtle meat is regarded as a delicacy.

Chelonitoxism lacks an antidote

The consumption of turtle meat can lead to chelonitoxism, a rare form of food poisoning without a known cure, according to Sky News. Patients are left with only supportive treatments. The New York Post, citing the National Institute of Health, reported that chelonitoxism triggers gastrointestinal symptoms, which are soon followed by neurological, liver, and kidney toxicity.

Laboratory tests revealed that all individuals affected by the disease had consumed the turtle meat on Tuesday, as stated by Haji Bakari, the medical officer of Mkoani district. He mentioned that the adult woman who died on Friday was the mother of one of the children who succumbed to the poisoning.

In response to the poisonings, Zanzibar's authorities, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, deployed a crisis management team to the archipelago. According to Sky News, the team is led by Hamza Hassan Juma. Officials have since urged residents and tourists to refrain from consuming turtle meat.

Source: AP, Sky News, New York Post

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