India: 100 children die of brain infection after eating lychee in empty stomach

Children often had sudden seizures and lost consciousness after eating the fruit.

Picture for representation
Roadside vendor sells lychees on a hot day in northern Indian city of Allahabad. Reuters

Doctors and researcher have been baffled by a mystery disease in people who ate lychee fruit in empty stomach in India. The illness has killed more than 100 children in India, according to BBC.

Children often had sudden seizures and lost consciousness after eating the fruit. The incidents were reported from the Northern state of Bihar. Most of the victims belonged to underprivileged families. They ate the tropical fruit which fell on the ground in orchards.

According to a report published in the medical journal The Lancet, the victims woke up screaming in the night before suffering convulsions and losing consciousness. Doctors later revealed that they suffered acute swelling of the brain.

Experiments by experts showed that Lychees contain a specific kind of toxin that restrains the body's ability to produce glucose. This affected the poor children more as their blood sugar levels were already low because they were not consuming proper dinner, reported the news website.

Scientists could also draw symptoms between these incidents in India and another similar incident in the Caribbean, where children died after eating the ackee fruit. The ackee fruit contains hypoglycin toxin that also stops the body from making glucose. It is believed that lychee also contains the deadly toxin.

Following the revelation, authorities urged parents to make sure that young children got an evening meal before they could have lychees at night. They also asked the adults to monitor how many lychees the children were eating. Moreover, officials said that If a child is suffering from the lychee poisoning they should be immediately treated for hypoglycaemia without wasting time.