- January 13, 2016
- Posted by: emobile
- Category: Trending Issues
This disease came into existence many years ago and is gotten from fish contaminated with mercury.’No one realised that the fish were contaminated with mercury… was causing a strange disease in the local community and in other districts. At least 50 000 people were affected to some extent and more than 2000 cases of Minamata disease were certified.’ says WHO. Minamata disease was very rampant in the 1950s, causing severe cases of brain damage, paralysis, incoherent speech and delirium.
People may be exposed to mercury in any of its forms under different circumstances. ‘However, exposure mainly occurs through consumption of fish and shellfish contaminated with methylmercury ‘and workers in industrial companies are prone to this disease with constant inhalation of mercury. Sad enough, thorough cooking does not eliminate mercury.
‘Mercury occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. It is released into the environment from volcanic activity, weathering of rocks and as a result of human activity. Human activity is the main cause of mercury releases, particularly coal-fired power stations, and residential coal burning for heating and cooking, industrial processes, waste incinerators and as a result of mining for mercury, gold and other metals. ‘Mercury exists in various forms: elemental (or metallic) and inorganic (to which people may be exposed through their occupation); and organic (e.g., methylmercury, to which people may be exposed through their diet). These forms of mercury differ in their degree of toxicity and in their effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes ‘says WHO.
Everybody is exposed to mercury in one form or the other but the levels differ. A chronic exposure is a continuous contact with mercury while acute exposure are high contact or high accidental contact. Exposure to mercury is harmful to the fetus. Fetuses are most susceptible to developmental effects due to mercury. Methylmercury exposure in pregnancy either by consumption of fish and shellfish with methylmercury or by accidental inhalation can adversely affect a baby’s brain and nervous system. Even though fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet and a source of protein, some certain fishes could be extremely dangerous to consume in pregnancy .
The risks of mercury consumption in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish. Therefore women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children are advised to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. I know your next question is how to know those fishes with high mercury!
Regardless of any fish you are eating don’t eat more than your tommy size fish in a week.The following fishes are high in mercury; Shark, Swordfish,Tuna, King Mackerel, or Tilefish .While shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish are low in mercury.
See also ‘Family members and health care workers are advised to always be careful and avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons with symptoms similar to those listed for Lassa fever and any such patients should be taken to nearest health facility’- Honourable Minister of Health