Disease

Deadly Fruit: Cause of Mysterious Brain Illness in India is Found

The mystery of why hundreds of children in an Indian city become sick every summer with a deadly brain illness has been solved, researchers say.

According to a new report, the cause of the illness appears to be the lychee fruit, which is grown widely in orchards in the city of Muzaffarpur, where the illnesses occur. Critically, the children who get sick often eat the fruit on an empty stomach, which contributes to the development of the illness, the researchers said.

Since 1995, there have been reports of children in Muzaffarpur suddenly falling ill and having seizures, usually in the morning hours. Often these children would slip into a coma, and about 40 percent died, the Times said. Outbreaks of these illnesses usually begin in mid-May and end in July, around the same time that lychee fruits are harvested.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed nearly 400 cases of children who developed this mysterious brain illness in 2014, and compared these cases with about 100 children who didn’t have this illness.

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