A 6-year-old boy died early Wednesday morning after eating boiled cassava.
Noven Monteza and his two siblings Dexter, 2, and Marilyn, 9, ate the cassava for dinner on Tuesday. They reported stomach pains around four hours afterwards but were not taken to a hospital.
PO1 Vilma Caballero from the Dumanjug Police Station said that the family lives far away from the town center and could not afford medical treatment. Very early the next day, the boy started vomiting and died at home. His siblings were rushed to a district hospital when they started vomiting as well.
One report noted that their parents also experienced symptoms. Regardless, poisons are more generally more dangerous to children because their lower body weight makes smaller doses lethal.
Cassava is easy to grow but can be deadly.
Cassava, locally known as kamoteng kahoy, is actually an excellent source of carbohydrates. It is very easy to grow, even on less fertile soil, and is considered drought-resistant.
However, eating improperly-prepared cassava can be fatal. Back in 2005, 30 children in Bohol also died after eating cassava.
The root crop can be deadly because it contains cyanogenic glucosides. As it is eaten, these cyanogenic glucosides release hydrogen cyanide (HCN), a poison which prevents body cells from using oxygen.
The amount of cyanogenic glucosides in cassava depends on the variety (the sweet cassava has less than the bitter kind) and the amount of rainwater. If rain was able to wash away the toxins before, drought conditions may cause toxins to accumulate.
Boiling is not enough to make it safe for consumption.
Given that the Philippines is expecting very dry weather due to El Niño, it is even more important to remember that cassava must be properly prepared and cooked. Boiling alone is not enough to make it safe for consumption. Studies recommend a thorough process of drying, soaking in water, then rinsing or baking.
If you or your children experience stomach pains after eating cassava, seek medical treatment urgently.
READ: Over 1,000 students poisoned by Durian candy in Surigao
If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ to stay up-to-date on the latest from theAsianparent.com Philippines!