Food poisoning associated with ingestion of wild wasp broods in the upstream region of the Lancang river valley, Yunnan province, China

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Abstract

Introduction:

Food poisoning due to wild wasp broods ingestion has long been noted in the upstream region of the Lancang river valley, Yunnan province, China. This study describes the epidemiological and clinical features of the poisoning and possible causes.

Methods:

Surveillance data collected between 2008 and 2016 were analyzed to produce demographic data on patients, information on clinical presentations, wasp species identification, and estimations of possible risk factors for symptomatic cases.

Results:

Eleven poisoning events were associated with the ingestion of wild wasp broods, including 46 exposed persons with 31 symptomatic living cases and 8 deceased cases that were reported in the Yunnan province between 2008 and 2016. Poisoning cases were only detected in the upstream region of the Lancang river valley in the autumn. The severity of the symptoms was correlated with an evident dose-effect relationship regarding the quantity ingested. The mean latent period from wild wasp broods ingestion to the onset of the symptoms was 10 h for symptomatic living cases and 7 h for deceased cases, respectively. Both gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms were commonly observed in the poisoning cases.

Conclusion:

The toxin source may be indirectly caused by the wasp broods due to the prevalence of local poisonous plants, such as Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F, Tripterygium hypoglaucum Hutch and Vaccinium bracteatum Thunb. Educational programs at the start of wasp harvest season in September in the high-risk area should be carried out to reduce the incidence of poisonings.

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