OJHAS Vol. 8, Issue 2: (2009
Due to Yam Flour Consumption in Kano (Northwest), Nigeria
Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, Bayero University
Dr. Adeleke SI,
Address For Correspondence
Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital,
Department of Paediatrics
Adeleke SI. Food poisoning
due to yam flour consumption in Kano (Northwest) Nigeria. Online J Health Allied Scs.
Submitted: May 8, 2009; Accepted
Jul 16, 2009 Published: Sep 8, 2009
is known to occur sporadically from time to time due to poor hygienic
preparations. Its occurrence rarely assumes epidemic proportion. The
objective was to report the occurrence of food poisoning due to yam
flour among three families which occurred almost in quick succession
between March and July 2007 among three families in Kano. They presented
with diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, convulsion and loss of consciousness.
They all recovered within 48hours of admission. Investigations indicated
that the use of certain lethal preservatives for the processing of the
yam flour might be responsible. Poisoning
from consumption of yam flour should be a differential diagnosis of
acute seizure disorders or occurrence of vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal
pain in the tropics. It is recommended that education on proper processing
of all food products in view of the public health implication.
Key Words: Food
poisoning, Yam flour, Kano
could be due to either biological or chemical causes. Food poisoning
actually occurs sporadically. Its occurrence does not usually assume
epidemic level. Yam flour remains a common staple food among the Yarubas
in the north central and south western Nigeria. It is obtained from
processing of yam which is the tubers of dioscorea ssp.1
It consumed by people in west Africa.1 Nigeria produces about
30million tones of yam making it the worlds largest producers2
of yam. It contains mainly of carbohydrate with little amount of proteins,
lipids and vitamis.3 some of the harvested yam are processed
in the south west into yam flour and transported1 to other
parts of Nigeria for family consumption. Most of the poisoning due to
yam flour was reported from north central and south west Nigeria.4
will report cases of food poisoning due to yam flour consumption in
Kano, Northwest Nigeria, which occurred in quick successions between
March and July 2007 among three families’ members in Kano, (Northwest
Nigeria). The families involved obtained the yam flour from the central
market in Kano city.
aged 5 and 8 years presented to the Emergency Paediatric Unit of Aminu
Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano in March 2007 with history of diarrhea,
two episodes of vomiting and abdominal pain. The symptoms started about
30minutes after consumption of a meal of yam flour and okro soup prepared by the
mother. The eldest child aged 11years was not admitted but also had vomiting and
abdominal pain. The two children were placed on intravenous fluids and were
stabilized by next day; they were also placed on ORS. The symptoms resolved
within 24hours. They all remained stable after at follow – up.
weeks after the first family that is in April, 2007 a 9 year old child
presented with vomiting and three episodes of generalized tonic clonic
convulsion of two hours duration following a meal of yam flour with
melon sauce taken about three hours earlier prepared by the mother.
He is not a known seizure disorder patient and there was no fever. One
other sibling developed vomiting but no convulsion. On examination observed
generalized tonic-clonic convulsion and altered state of consciousness
(Glasgow coma score – 8). Paradehyde and phenorbarbitone were given
to stop the convulsion and he was also given parenteral bolus of 50% dextrose.
The cerebrospinal fluid microscopy, culture and sensitivity, protein and sugar
were normal. The patient became fully conscious within 24hours. The other
sibling with vomiting remained stable at 48hours. They all remained stable at
aged two, four, eight and ten years of the same parent developed generalized
tonic clonic convulsion about three hours after a meal of yam flour
with okoro sauce in July, 2007. There were all rushed to a private health
facilities. There was no neck stiffness cerebrospinal fluid analysis
were normal. Each of them had two to firm episodes of generalized seizures.
There was no post-ictal loss of consciousness. The seizures abated with
paraldehyde and phenobarbitone. They were all discharged after 24hours.
They all remained stable at follow-up.
is a stable food in most parts of Nigeria especially some parts of North
central and South western Nigeria.4 Yam storage before processing
to yam flour is an elaborate process involving the yam chips been preserved
with pesticides such as gammalin 20 and phosphile. Gammalin 20 is commonly
used by farmers. These chemicals can be lethal, since it stays on the
yam chips. It is also heat resistant and so it sticks to the yam for
a long time despite boiling at very high temperature. Phosphile is also
used; it releases phosphate gas to kill the pests. However, the yam
flour made yam chips treated with phosphile should not be eaten for
the next three months. This is actually to allow the phosphile gas to
wear off. Due to the economic melt down, there was rush to sell this
yam flour for money. Yam flour consumption was a common and consistent
proceeding event in all the patient’s highlighted in the case reports.
The sauce with which the yam flour was served is unlikely to be the
cause of food poisoning as the patients took varied sauces.
chips generate osmotic pressure under the warm and humid tropical climate
and it absorbs moisture from the surrounding.5 Vasible moulds
growth on yam chips are possible. Mycotoxin such as allatoxin are toxic
metabolites produced by the fungi, they are associated with mouldy growth
on agricultural products.6 Aflatoxin beyond the tolerance
level in food can produce effects such as vomiting, diarrhea and convulsion?
no toxicological assessment of the yam flour because non-availability
of facilities for this procedure. The aldrin chemicals used for these
agricultural products could have produced those symptoms in these children.8
Investigations from the areas where the yam flour is produced, the preservative
commonly used by farmers revealed that mixture with aldrin might have
produced the toxic effects. The famers were also in hurry to sell or
consume the products and in the process, went for what the farmers considered
effective. The level of toxicity of aldrin depends on the serum level
attained after consumption. Concentrations9
of less than 20ug/L were usually associated with mild poisoning which
involved symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and epigastric pain, while
concentrations of 100-200ug/L were considered to represent moderate
intoxication and were associated with nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain,
headache, dizziness and convultions.9 Severe cases were associated
with levels above 700ug/L.9
reported occurred during the dry season when the store of food is depleted.
Therefore, whatever was available were processed in a hurry without
going through the due process.
Yam and yam
chips are produced and marketed to the general populace mainly by farmers
in rural areas. Their action is capable of affecting a large number
of people. There should be proper preservation of yam flour by agricultural
extension workers. At health facilities, there must be vigilance for
cases of food poisoning especially during the dry season. There should
also be urgent setting up of toxicological centres in the geo-political
zones of the country.
- Watt AW. Yams:
Dioscorea species. Field crop 2003;35:792–815.
- Food and Agricultural
organization. Annual production book. 2004;108–115.
- Babalola M, Oyenuga
VA. Value of yam Dioscorea speiceis. In Nigerian food and feeding stuffs.
Ibadan, University Press, Ibadan, Nigeria 2001. P 110–114.
- Adedoyin OT, Ojuawo
A, Adesiyun OO, Mark F, Anigilaje EA. Poisoning due to yam flour consumption
in five families in Ilorin, central Nigeria. West Afr Med J 2008;27(1):41–43.
- Davey PM, Elcoate
S, Moisture content, relative humidity equilbra of tropical stored products.
Int J Crop Prod 1995;104:1108–1115.
- Udoh JM, Cardwell
JF, Ikotun T. storage structures and aflatoxin content of maize in five
agro-ecological zones of Nigeria. J stored Prod Res 2000;36:187–201.
- Adebayo LO, Idowu
OO. Mycoflora and aflotoxin in a West Africa agro-products. J stored
Prod Res 2005:41;4387–401.
- Bara V, Laburnum M. In Paediatric toxicology Handbook for poisoning in children. In
emergency Toxicology 2nd ed, Saunders, Philadephia, 1997. P
- Kumkel DB, Spoerke
DG, Evaluating exposures to plants. Emrg Med Clin North Am 1984;2(1):133–144.