In a major breakthrough, scientists and researchers have confirmed that toxins present in litchis had been killing children aged 15 years and younger in Bihar for years. The disease has been preying on malnourished children with low immunity in Muzaffarpur district since 1994. In the last 20 years, close to 1,000 children have died of the ailment.
According to the report published in The Lancet Global Health medical journal, researchers declared litchi fruit as the source of the disease. The illness, whose symptoms are said to resemble encephalitis, have several factors contributing to it including, heat, humidity, malnourishment and pesticides and the would break out every year in mid-May and the cases would be at their highest in June.
According to ANI, researchers from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and India’s National Centre for Disease Control compared test results of children who had developed the mysterious illness, and children who had not.
Following the investigation, uurine samples showed that two-thirds of the ill children showed evidence of exposure to toxins found in lychee seeds — found in higher levels in unripe fruits.
The results said that children who fell ill were twice as likely to have skipped dinner, which, according to the researchers probably resulted in “night-time hypoglycaemia.”
The disease mostly affected poor and undernourished children living near the orchards.
According to ANI, the Central government had issued a statement advising children to henceforth “minimise litchi fruit consumption” in affected areas, and eat an evening meal during the “outbreak period.”