Outbreaks of aflatoxicoses in India

  • Bhumi Narsimha Reddy
  • Chinnam Raghu Raghavender
Keywords: Aflatoxicoses, Aflatoxins, Fungi, Food quality


Mycotoxins particularly aflatoxins are gaining increasing importance due to their deleterious effects on human and animal health and also due to ubiquitous  presence  of aflatoxigenic fungi in all the agricultural commodities under field and storage conditions. In general, aflatoxins occur more frequently in tropical  countries  because of high temperature, moisture, unseasonal rains and flash  floods.  Poor harvesting practices, improper storage and less than optimal  conditions during transport and marketing can also contribute to mycotoxin production. Chronic health risks are particularly prevalent in India where the diets of people are highly prone to aflatoxigenic fungi and aflatoxins. The present paper reviews the disease outbreaks of aflatoxicoses in India due to the ingestion of contaminated food and feed with aflatoxins. One of the first outbreaks of  aflatoxicosis was reported from western India during 1974 with 106 deaths of indigenous people whose staple food was maize. This is perhaps the first report directly incriminating aflatoxin in food as a human health hazard at the indigenous community level. An independent study of the same outbreak was carried out  subsequently also indicated that the aflatoxins were the major cause of the  outbreak. Indian childhood cirrhosis, a clinical condition mainly confined to the Indian subcontinent has been attributed to aflatoxin   contamination. They also found a correlation between aflatoxin contamination and fungal load on the one hand and hepatomegaly in children on the other in south Canara district of Karnataka. Another outbreak of toxic hepatitis affecting both humans and dogs was reported in India during 1974. Heavy mortality in chicks in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh was reported in 1982 due to aflatoxicosis. Another outbreak of aflatoxicosis in commercial poultry farms was also reported in the same district with hundred percent mortality. A case of aflatoxicosis in Murrah buffaloes from Andhra Pradesh was also reported. Occurrence of aflatoxicosis in poultry in Mysore state was first recognized in 1966 where 2219 chicks died in one week. Subsequently, several sporadic incidences were found in various poultry farms in Karnataka. Most of the outbreaks of aflatoxicoses described here are a  consequence of ingestion of food that is contaminated with aflatoxins. Disease outbreaks due to aflatoxins continue to be problems of significant public health concern in India as long as people will consume contaminated food. The strict control of food quality is therefore  necessary to avoid such incidences.

Keywords:  Aflatoxicoses, Aflatoxins, Fungi, Food quality


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358