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Rare Liver Disease Kills 10
Afghans - Wheat Blamed

Health.bloglico.us (edited)
From Patricia Doyle, PhD
As many as 10 people have died in western Afghanistan from a rare liver disease believed to be caused by contaminated wheat, officials said Saturday. At least 161 people were also hospitalized with Gulran disease although estimates were as high as 200 affected in Herat province, on the Iranian border, said Peter Graaff, resident representative of the U.N. World Health Organization.
A toxic weed called charmak, which grows in the area, contains alkalines [alkaloids] that affect the liver causing Gulran disease, which is named after the affected district in Herat. Graaff said the disease is not new but rare, and has killed as many as 10 people in recent weeks.
Abdul Hakim Tamana, the director of the Herat public health department, said 112 Gulran cases have been recorded in the province's clinics, and 6 people died. "It has spread all over Gulran district, including several villages," Tamana said.
It was unclear exactly how the people became ill. The WHO is sending an epidemiologist from Geneva to Afghanistan next week to investigate. Graaff said charmak may have contaminated wheat grown in the region, flour or other foods.
The Afghan Red Crescent Society received USD 14 000 to purchase new wheat to replace suspect supplies in the district as a precautionary measure, said Graziella Leite Piccolo, a spokeswoman in Kabul for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Tamana said Gulran disease has affected people in the area over the past 40 years, and several people died in 1999 and 2001 from it.
http://health.bloglicio.us/2008/08/22/rare-liver- disease-kills-10-afghans-wheat-blamed/
Communicated by
Susan Baekeland,
Lower Normandy, France
This disease, Gulran, is named after the affected district Herat in Afganistan. Caused by a toxic weed charmak. It has occurred a number of times in various years, always nears this particular region in Afganistan, and always resulting in fatalities. The toxic plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, known to cause liver failure and frequently death.
Portions of this comment were provided by the contributor. ­ Mod.TG
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD 
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics 
Univ of West Indies 
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