This is based on a true story that happened in a small barrio in Bohol way back 2005 wherein second and third-grade pupils started complaining because of stomach pains and dizziness right after eating cassava cake, locally known as maruya,during their morning recess.
Toxic experts are suspecting cyanide as the likely cause of the poisoning of at least 110 mostly grade-school children in Bohol after they ate tasty snacks made from cassava.
Cassava is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates.
Cassava is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize.Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people.
Cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter. Both varieties contain antinutritional factors and toxins but bitter variety contains much larger amount. They contain two cyanogenic glucosides, linamarin and lotaustralin.
Sweet cassava may produce as little as 20 milligrams of cyanide per kilogram of fresh roots, whereas bitter ones may produce more than 50 times as much 1 gram per kilogram. A dose of 25 mg of pure cassava cyanogenic glucoside, which contains 2.5 mg of cyanide, is sufficient to kill a rat.
Hydrogen cyanide(HCN), sometimes called prussic acid is a colorless, extremely poisonous, and flammable liquid that boils slightly above room temperature.
Cassava must be properly prepared before consumption, as improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide which can cause acute cyanide intoxication, goiters, and even ataxia (a neurological disorder affecting the ability to walk), partial paralysis, or death. Cassava is known as kamoteng kahoy or balinghoy in the Philippines.
Cassava roots, peels, or leaves should not be consumed raw.
Symptoms of acute cyanide intoxication appear four or more hours after ingesting raw or poorly processed cassava: vertigo, vomiting, and collapse. In some cases, death may result within one or two hours.
Acute cyanide intoxication can be treated easily with an injection of thiosulfate, it detoxify the body by converting the poisonous cyanide into thiocyanate.
Epidemiologist Dr. Manuel Mapue of the Department of Health (DOH) said that cyanide could be produced by certain decomposing elements in the soil.
“During summer, the level of cyanide in root crops increases because the soil is dry. During the rainy days, the water (washes out the toxin),” Mapue said.
Dr. Troy Gepte, an epidemiologist at the Department of Health, said that the tragedy is an accident because the lady herself had also been poisoned by trying to eat the cassava after seeing the kids experiencing the pain. She was reportedly been selling the products for a long time.
Gepte also added that they received information that the water used to wash the cassava came from a container contaminated with the pesticide.