Turtle meat killed six in Micronesia, government says
Wellington (AFP) Nov 12, 2010
Six people died and more than 90 fell ill after eating endangered turtles in Micronesia, the Pacific nation's government said Friday.
The deaths, which included four children, occurred after a feast on the island of Murilo in mid-October where the rare hawksbill turtle was consumed, the Federated States of Micronesia's public information office said.
It said government health officials and the World Health Organization found the deaths were a result of chelonitoxism, a type of poisoning caused by biotoxins in turtle flesh for which there is no known antidote.
Hawksbill turtles were a species known to cause chelonitoxism and children were particularly vulnerable to the condition, the government said in a statement.
It said health authorities had recommended a complete ban on eating turtles and their eggs as a result of the deaths.
"Though this incident has come to an end, future incidents are certain to occur unless action is taken to alter turtle-eating behavior," the statement said.
The hawksbill turtle was the original source of tortoiseshell and is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
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