The FDA recently released a warning to Haitians who might be tempted to eat unripe Ackee fruit due to food shortages in the wake of the earthquake. According to the FDA, unripe Haitian Ackee fruit is toxic to humans who consume it. Consumption of the immature fruit can lead to severe health issues including a sudden drop in blood sugar, coma, convulsions and perhaps death.
Symptoms of Ackee tree poisoning can include vomiting, followed by excessive thirst, loose bowels, muscle exhaustion to the point of collapse and fever. Haitians who may have eaten Ackee fruit should seek immediate medical assistance.
Pictures of immature Ackee fruit are available on the FDA Web site. Known Ackee orchards in Haiti include LaMoriniere, Roche Blanche, and DuJour. These orchards are located in the Croix-des-Bouquets arrondisement, which is located approximately 8 miles to the northwest of Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince. The January 12, 2010 quake was centered near Leogane, which is situated approximately 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince.
It is not known what measures, if any, are being taken to secure the orchards. I attempted to reach the contact person listed in the FDA advisory, but my email was not returned.
Sanitation in Haiti also a concern, disease may claim more quake victims
As rescue crews continue to look for the living buried in the rubble, aid workers worry that the earthquake will claim more victims in the near future. Lack of adequate medical care and sanitation is a huge concern for the Haitians who survived the quake. Those who were injured but triaged as low priority are at risk for wound infections.
Haitians now living in makeshift tent cities cobbled together with bedsheets and other available materials are at risk for diarrhea due to poor or non-existent sanitation. In addition, close quarters also means that respiratory illnesses can spread easily in camps. Considering that the H1N1 virus is still circulating and with the influx of aid workers from the far reaches of the globe, an H1N1 outbreak is a concern. According to a Miami Herald article in December, 2009, there was a concern in Caribbean nations that the tourist season might bring with it an outbreak of H1N1. Now with so many aid workers coming in and out of the country, disease prevention is a topic of interest.
Fox News: Haiti’s Mass Graves Swell as Health Fears Rise
Miami Herald: Caribbean Prepares for Potential H1N1 Outbreak