Eight Children and One Woman Dead from Eating Sea Turtle Meat

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.11 - 2024 9:25 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
In Zanzibar, an incident involving the consumption of sea turtle meat has led to the tragic deaths of eight children and one woman.

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Authorities have reported that a total of 78 individuals were hospitalized after partaking in the meal on Pemba Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, where this type of meat is considered a sought-after delicacy in the region.

The consumption of contaminated sea turtle can result in chelonitoxism, a rare but potentially deadly form of food poisoning for which there is no specific cure. Treatment is limited to alleviating the symptoms.

Mkoani District medical officer, Haji Bakari, confirmed that lab tests linked the illnesses to sea turtle meat consumed last Tuesday. The adult who passed away was the mother of one of the earlier child victims.

In response to this health crisis, Zanzibar's authorities, operating within the semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, have mobilized a disaster management team led by Hamza Hassan Juma to Pemba Island. The team's immediate advice to the public is to avoid eating sea turtle meat to prevent further incidents.

This is not the first occurrence of such a tragedy in the area. In November 2021, Pemba Island witnessed the deaths of seven individuals, including a three-year-old child, from similar circumstances, with several others needing hospital care.

Symptoms of chelonitoxism can vary widely but typically include nausea, vomiting, and severe throat and mouth ulcerations. In extreme cases, affected individuals may experience muscle weakness, partial paralysis, and agitation, with some progressing to a coma.