Toxic Beans Behind Child Deaths In Odisha’s Malkangiri, Confirm Experts

Anthraquinone is the suspected toxin found in a plant called Cassia Occidentalis- a toxic bean that children consumed.
  • Consumption of Cassia Occidentalis, a toxic bean, caused deaths in Odisha
  • Urine samples of children tested positive for Anthraquinone
  • Toxin causes Encephalopathy, a disease that affects the brain

Malkangiri, Odisha: The central expert team constituted by the government, in an interim report, claimed that child deaths in Odisha’s Malkangiri are not only due to Japanese Encephalitis, but also on account of Encephalopathy caused due to the consumption of Cassia Occidentalis, commonly known as Bana Chakunda in Odiya.

The head of the team Jacob Jonn in a press conference said, “Anthraquinone is the suspected toxin found in a plant called Cassia Occidentalis. Urine samples of a few children tested positive indicating that the children must have consumed the seeds of the plant.”

He added that the urine samples of few kids of Malkangiri district was sent for examination to the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research in Lucknow. According to Mr Jonn, consumption of these beans can cause severe childhood illnesses with acute hepato-myo-encephalopathy syndrome that affects the liver, muscles and the brain.

Odisha Health secretary Arti Ahuja admitted that the cause of children deaths is Encephalopathy and added the state government was taking all possible steps to control the disease.

With the Japanese Encephalitis death toll reaching 96 in the last two months in Malkangiri, the district-level task force committee held its first meeting last week to discuss the launch of vaccination of kids to tackle the spread of the vector-borne disease.