For a long time, doctors and government officers in Muzzafarpur, India were unable to account for the rising cases of seizures and brain-swelling in children during the months of May and June.
But researchers have finally found the culprit.
It's all because of a certain fruit.
Lychees, to be exact.
Researchers in India recently discovered that hypogycin, a toxin found in lychees, are responsible for the previously unexplained deaths. The toxin causes hypoglycemia, a conditioned that stops the production of glucose in the body. This, in turn, causes one to lose appetite. Researchers believe that this can be fatal.
The researchers, some of them from the United States*, traced the reported deaths to the fruit because they all seemed to occur during the harvesting time of lychees. They also pointed out that the victims were mostly from poor families who could not afford to eat healthy and balanced meals regularly. The victims all suffered from hypoglycemia after eating too many lychees on empty stomachs.
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The Indian government proceeded to cut the recommended consumption of lychees for their citizens and started a program that would provide the right food for poverty-stricken communities. The move has reportedly helped in cutting the fatality rate to about half.
*from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the Center for Disease Control in India.