Eighteen children from one village have been admitted to St Mary’s Hospital Mumias after eating wild fruits suspected to be poisonous.
The incident, which took place yesterday morning, caused panic among residents who said the tree had grown on a grave.
Phaustine Lung’aso, the nursing officer at the hospital, said the children who were in critical condition when they were admitted to the facility were now stable.
“The children were vomiting and they were treated for wild fruit poisoning,” said Lung’aso, adding that most of them were between two and 12 years.
Asha Osman, whose seven grandchildren were among the victims, said the children complained of stomach ache after eating the fruits before their condition worsened.
She said they rushed them to Matungu Sub-County Hospital where they were given first aid then referred to St Mary’s Hospital for specialised medication.
“The tree on which the fruits grow has been here for years, but we have never known that they are poisonous,” said Ms Osman.
Beatrice Wamukoya, another resident whose children were affected by the poisoning, said they claimed that they decided to eat the fruits because they were sweet.
“They said they ate the seeds before they started experiencing stomach ache,” said Ms Wamukoya.
Aliya Makhulu, a resident, said the plant grew naturally on a grave after her relative died in 1993.
He said they are planning to uproot the plant to avoid another calamity.
“It was the first time children have eaten fruits from the tree despite it being there for over 20 years. We will uproot the tree to avoid such incidents in future” said Mr Makhulu.
However, some people said the tree was planted by the family of the deceased as one way of ensnaring the person who killed their beloved.
Reacting to the tragedy, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya ordered that the tree be uprooted. He was due to visit the affected families in hospital.
“People should stop planting unknown trees in their homes and instead focus on plants and crops that are good for human consumption,” he said.