Food Poisoning Admissions in Referral Hospitals in Zimbabwe: A Retrospective Study

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1 A ten-year (1980-1989) retrospective study of poisoning admissions due to food poisoning at six referral hospitals in urban Zimbabwe revealed 487 cases. This constituted 8.1 % of all poisoning admission cases (6018).

2 The majority of patients were among the 2.1-5 (20%), 5.1-10 (16%) and 21-30 (15%) year age groups in that descending order.

3 The agents implicated in food poisoning were mushrooms (47%), food-borne and other food-related toxins (37%), Elephants Ear (10%), alcohol (7%) and cassava (1 %).

4 The majority of poisoning cases were accidental, accounting for 99% of the total.

5 The treatment regimens mostly used included agents for correcting fluid and electrolyte imbalance (22.1 %), antibiotics (16.7%) and supportive measures (15.5%).

6 Mortality was recorded at 2.5% and the main agents associated with fatality were food-related toxins (5 cases), mushrooms (4 cases) and alcohol (4 cases).

7 The prevention and treatment of poisoning caused by food poisoning is mandatory in the effort to reduce poisoning caused by these agents.

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