Geospatial association of endemicity of ataxic polyneuropathy and highly cyanogenic cassava cultivars
1 Neurology Unit, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
2 Family Health International, Abuja, Nigeria, Formerly, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria
International Journal of Health Geographics 2013, 12:41 doi:10.1186/1476-072X-12-41Published: 14 September 2013
Exposure to cyanide from cassava foods is present in communities where ataxic polyneuropathy is endemic. Ataxic polyneuropathy is endemic in coastal parts of southwest and southeast Nigeria, and coastal Newala, south India, but it has been reported in epidemic or endemic forms from Africa, Asia, or Caribbean. This study was done to determine if cyanogenicity of cassava cultivars is higher in lowland than highland areas, and if areas of endemicity of ataxic polyneuropathy colocalize with areas of highest cyanogenicity of cassava.
Roots of cassava cultivars were collected from 150 farmers in 32 of 37 administrative areas in Nigeria. Global positioning system was used to determine the location of the roots. Roots were assayed for concentrations of cyanogens. Thin Plate Spline regression was used to produce the contour map of cyanogenicity of the study area. Contour maps of altitude of the endemic areas were produced. Relationship of cyanogenicity of cassava cultivars and altitude, and of locations of areas of high cyanogenicity and areas of endemicity were determined.
Geometrical mean (95% CI) cyanogen concentration was 182 (142–233) mg HCN eq/kg dry wt for cassava cultivars in areas ≤ 25 m above sea level, but 54 (43–66) mg HCN eq/kg dry wt for areas > 375 m. Non-spatial linear regression of altitude on logarithm transformed concentrations of cyanogens showed highly significant association, (p < 0.0001). Contour map of concentrations of cyanogens in cassava cultivars in Nigeria showed four areas with average concentrations of cassava cyanogens > 250 mg HCN eq/kg dry wt, and one area of moderately high cyanogen concentration > 150 mg HCN eq/kg dry wt. The endemic areas colocalized with areas of highest cassava cyanogenicity in lowland areas close to the Atlantic Ocean.
This study shows strong geospatial association of areas of endemicity of ataxic polyneuropathy and areas of highest cyanogenicity of cassava cultivars. Finding of higher cyanogenicity of cassava in lowland than highland areas indicate strong influence of altitude on expression of cyanogens in cassava cultivars.