Endemic Ascites

It was noticed in the Kusmi block of Sarguja district of Madhya Pradesh during the years 1973 and 1976. There was an outbreak of rapidly progressing ascites and jaundice among the tribals. Mortality rate was 40%.

Investigation by the National Institute of Nutrition concluded that this outbreak was due to intake of Millet seeds contaminated with Crotalaria seeds which form their main diet. Crotalaria occured as a weed in areas of millet (Panicum miliare) cultivation. Crotalaria seeds contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are hepatotoxic.

The methods suggested for preventing this were deweeding of farmlands and seiveing of millet seeds before use, as Crotalaria seeds were much smaller.

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