Recent research points towards the agrochemicals used in lychee orchards being responsible for the recurrent outbreaks of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) among kids in India and Bangladesh, rather than the fruit of the lychee tree (Litchi chinensis)
The research was conducted jointly between Bangladesh-US team of scientists, who published their study in July in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The findings were based on their investigations of an outbreak of AES in May–June 2012, which took the lives of 13 children aged 1–12 in Bangladesh’s Dinajpur district. The symptoms of AES include convulsion, unconsciousness, excessive sweating, and frothing at the mouth.
Mohammed Saiful Islam, scientist at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, and lead author of the study, said that Pesticides can be one of the contributing factors and that the outbreak was linked to lychee orchard exposures where agrochemicals were routinely used, but not to consumption of lychees.