A while ago, news broke on a popular social platform to the effect Tana River County government has been for quite some time distributing contaminated maize to farming communities affected by food shortage within the County. My first reaction when I saw that newsfeed was one of shock. I immediately followed up that stream with a comment, quote:
“If only those involved in this scam understood the science of moulds and yeasts as relates to adverse long-term effects to the human genome! This is a very serious matter akin to unleashing of biological warfare on innocent, unsuspecting members of society!…..”.
I do not recall Tana River County government summoning a Press release to officially respond to the expose or officially instituting any other public mitigating action known to the electorate. It is such prolonged silence that prompted yet another comment in which I sought clarification on the matter via the same social platform. Again, no official response has come forth from authorities at the County government.
The US Food and Drug Administration records that aflatoxins are a group of structurally related toxic compounds produced by certain strains of the fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. It is as well informed that aflatoxicosis is poisoning that results from ingestion of aflatoxins in contaminated food and feed. These pathogens are known to produce acute necrosis, cirrhosis, and carcinoma of the liver in a number of animal species. Indeed, no animal species is resistant to acute toxic effects of aflatoxins; hence logical to assume humans may be similarly affected.
In view of the foregoing, studies on human toxicity from ingestion of aflatoxins have focused on their carcinogenic potential. US FDA reports that epidemiological studies in Africa and Southeast Asia, where there’s a high incidence of hepatoma, have revealed an association between cancer incidence and the aflatoxin content of local diet.
The US Food and Drug Administration also reports that one of the most important accounts of aflatoxicosis in humans occurred in more than 150 villages in adjacent districts of two neighbouring states in northwest India in the fall of 1974. In this outbreak, contaminated corn was the major dietary constituent. Aflatoxin levels of 0.25 to 15 mg/kg were found where out of 397 persons affected, 108 persons succumbed.
Another outbreak of aflatoxicosis according to the same source was reported in Kenya in 1982. There were 20 hospital admissions with a 60% mortality. Daily aflatoxin intake was estimated to be at least 38 mg/kg body weight for an undetermined number of days.
Tana Daily Telegraph considers it of utmost importance to bring facts closer to the community, especially where there is already unrefuted evidence of exposure to contaminated corn so as to sensitize affected communities to be on the lookout for any symptoms of aflatoxicosis . Subsequently, patients diagnosed with this condition present with high fever, rapid progressive jaundice (yellowing of the eyes), edema (swelling) of the limbs, pain, vomiting, and swollen liver. It is observed that one incredible investigator of aflatoxicosis reported a peculiar and very notable feature of the outbreak: the appearance of signs of disease in one village population was preceded by a similar disease in domestic dogs, which was usually fatal.
That at the end of the day County governments are to be held accountable to questionable actions, whether or not in this case the persons raising health concerns relating to deliberate distribution of contaminated corn voted for the Tana River County Governor, is a matter that cannot be overemphasized. The farming community in Tana River County demands immediate response from the County government relating to this matter.
Needless to say that ignoring the facts relating to aflatoxin exposure thus far would not only revive suspicion as to the real motive behind such act of negligence but could as well cause unnecessary apprehension within the wider community of tanarians. That pathway is, indeed, the last course that anyone in their right minds would wish to pursue considering myriad challenges facing the County.