Leaders urge probe into poisonous honey that has killed 11 in two years

Marimanti Hospital

Marimanti Level Four Hospital in Tharaka constituency in Tharaka Nithi County. Seventeen people hospitalised at the facility for reportedly consuming poisonous honey have been discharged. 

Photo credit: ALEX NJERU I Nation Media Group

Some leaders in Tharaka Nithi County want investigations carried out to establish the type of chemical contained in wild honey that has claimed 11 lives in two years.

They urged health officials to find out what is poisoning the honey.

Every time a person dies from consuming honey, they said, samples are taken for analysis in government labs but the results are never made public so that people will know the problem and be cautious.

“We want the county government to take samples to the government chemist so that they can be analysed and the results made public,” said Mr Paul Mugambi, who lost the race for Tharaka Nithi senator in the August 9 polls.

The leaders spoke Monday when they visited 17 people sickened by poisonous honey recently in Rukaani, Tharaka constituency. They were admitted to Marimanti Level Four Hospital last week.

Poisonous honey

Two children died, bringing to 11 the number of people who have died in the constituency after reportedly consuming poisonous honey in the last two years.

Mr Stephen Kamanja, the Marimanti hospital nursing manager, told the Nation that all the 17 people, mostly children, were in good health.

“Apart from the two children who died, the rest are now in good health and are being cleared for the discharge,” he said.

He said one of the children died while being rushed to hospital and the other succumbed while receiving treatment.

He said for a long time people have been harvesting and consuming nchuura, a type of honey made by sting-less bees, without falling sick and only scientists can reveal what has changed in recent times.

Mr Mugambi also urged the devolved government to establish a level-four hospital in Tharaka North sub-county to respond to such emergencies.

He said if there had been a hospital in the region, which is about 35 kilometres from Marimanti hospital, the two children could have been saved.

In May last year, two people from Muguruka village in Tharaka South died and eight others were treated after consuming honey.

In July last year, three people in the same village died and four others were treated after drinking a local brew known as uki brewed with honey, just a day after a boy from Gichiini village in Tharaka North died and four others were treated.

Earlier in June, two people had died and another was treated in Riamikui village, also in Tharaka North.