Three people from Muguruka village in Tharaka Nithi County have died while four others are receiving treatment at Marimanti Sub-County Hospital after they reportedly consumed adulterated alcohol made from honey. This comes just a day after a seven-year-old boy from Gichiini village in the same county died after eating honey.
Medical superintendent Dr Andrew Njoroge said the four patients, including a child who had eaten raw honey, are out of danger but are still receiving treatment for food poisoning.
The victims were admitted with severe diarrhoea, stomach ache and vomiting.
Tharaka South police boss Kiprop Rutto said Victor Nkari, 72, who was the first to die, harvested the honey last Saturday and prepared the brew.
Mr Nkari started complaining of stomach pains on Saturday night. He died as his family members were preparing to rush him to hospital.
Local police have began investigations into the tragic incident, with the remaining liquor and honey being taken for chemical analysis.
A resident, Mr Nicholas Mutegi, told journalists that when the family members took Mr Nkari's body to Marimanti mortuary on Sunday morning, three other people - Charles Kithinji, Robert Muthengi and Peter Kinyua - came to the deceased's house, drank the remaining liquor and also fell sick.
As they were preparing to take the three to the hospital, they received reports that another neighbor, John Kiruuthu, 82, who had taken the beer with the deceased, was found dead in his house.
Sensing danger, Mr Mutegi says they began to look for another neighbour, Mr Miriti Kibayo, who had also partaken the brew but was nowhere to be found. Later, he was found seriously sick and rushed to the same hospital but died while receiving treatment.
“We suspect the honey is the source of the problem because the young boy only took it raw,” said Mr Mutegi.
Beekeeping is a common agricultural practice in the Tharaka community with most honey being consumed raw or used to prepare traditional brew.
Mr Martin Ntakamwara, a beekeeper, told Nation.Africa that sometimes bees collect raw material for making honey from poisonous flowers.
He noted that though toxic plants are few and rarely flower, bee farmers who identify them should be keen to uproot them whenever they're found near their beehives.