Neurolathyrism: Two Ethiopian case reports and review of the literature

Yohannes W. Woldeamanuel, Anhar Hassan, Guta Zenebe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neurolathyrism is a toxic myelopathy caused by ingestion of the Lathyrus sativus grasspea. An irreversible acute to subacute spastic paraparesis or quadriparesis ensues. Despite public education, new cases of this preventable disease still occur. Two Ethiopian cases of neurolathyrism are reported to illustrate the disease, followed by a literature review. Two teenage male farmers from the same village developed irreversible spastic myelopathy following L. sativus ingestion. There was no sensory, sphincter or bulbar dysfunction. Likely causative factors identified were increased consumption of L. sativus prior to and following disease onset, heavy physical exertion and male gender, similar to those reported in the literature. Neurolathyrism is an entirely preventable neurotoxic myelopathy with permanent disability accrued. Treatment is symptomatic. Because of personal disability and subsequent socioeconomic effects, this disease warrants further public health measures to prevent occurrence. Education, avoidance of the grasspea and measures to reduce toxin burden are possible methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1263-1268
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurology
Volume259
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012

Keywords

  • Ethiopia
  • Grasspea
  • Lathyrus sativus
  • Neurolathyrism
  • Spastic paraparesis
  • Spastic quadraparesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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