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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC twenty four seven. Saving Lives, Protecting People
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This 1966 image depicted an opened akee plant seed pod,
, which is native to tropical West African nations, including Cameroon, Gabon, Guinea, and Sierra Leone to name a few. It is also found in Jamaica, after having been imported from its West African origins. Present in the unripe fruit, are the compounds hypoglycin A, found in both the seeds and the arils, and hypoglycin B, present only in the seeds, which are both toxic to humans. The arils are actually the edible fruit, which when prepared from ripened pods, in the proper manner, is a traditional food eaten throughout the plant’s habitat. Ingestion of the poison causes a malady referred to as Jamaican vomiting sickness, which involves a disruption of fatty acid metabolism, leading to fatty acid accumulating in the liver. With an unavailability of fatty acids, the body resorts to using glucose and glycogen for its energy, which then leads to hypoglycemia.
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CDC/ Frank L. Bryan, Ph.D., M.P.H.
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