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Forensic Sci Int. 2011 Mar 20;206(1-3):e103-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.01.018. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Fatal intoxication due to ackee (Blighia sapida) in Suriname and French Guyana. GC-MS detection and quantification of hypoglycin-A.

Author information

1
LAT-LUMTOX, 800 avenue Marie Curie, 07800 La Voulte sur Rhône, France. y.gaillard@latlumtox.com

Abstract

Between 1998 and 2001 the deaths of 16 Surinamese children were recorded along the Maroni River, which forms the border between Suriname and French Guyana. After a metabolic origin was eliminated, ethnobotanical research in the field led to a hypothesis of intoxication through the ingestion of ackee. Ackee (Blighia sapida) is a large green leafy tree of West African origin. Its unripe fruit contains large quantities of two toxic molecules: hypoglycin-A and hypoglycin-B, the former being the more toxic. We have developed a GC-MS procedure allowing us to demonstrate the presence of hypoglycin-A in the gastric fluid of one of the deceased children, and to compare the content of hypoglycin-A in fruit collected on the road to Paramaribo in Suriname (5.1mg/g) with samples from Burkina Faso (8.1mg/g) and Jamaica (9.2mg/g). Field research showed the misuse of this little-known plant by Maroon witch doctors. The Bushinengue witch doctors were informed about the dangers of ackee, and no new cases have been reported to date.

PMID:
21324617
DOI:
10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.01.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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