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The mystery of the wooden leg: vitamin C deficiency in East African prisons.
Trop Doct 2005; 35(2):81-4TD

Abstract

Vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) is an uncommon disease in modern times, and therefore easily misdiagnosed when it appears. While visiting prisoners in East Africa, health delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) encountered prisoners suffering from a hitherto undiagnosed 'mysterious' illness, consisting mainly of swollen and hard legs, that had not responded to various treatments given by the local health centre or hospital. The ICRC set out to investigate the nature of this disease and examined 133 prisoners with the suspected clinical symptoms described as 'wooden leg' syndrome in 10 different prisons. Serum ascorbic acid levels were measured and a food basket analysis done. The diagnosis of scurvy was confirmed. All patients responded to standard treatment with oral ascorbic acid. The clinical presentation of scurvy in these East African prisons seems to be somewhat different from the classic descriptions, but is in line with historic records of the disease. Treatment is easy and cheap, and response to treatment is quick. Scurvy remains a problem in prisons in Africa and clinicians working in prisons need to be aware of its presence and its presentations.

Authors+Show Affiliations

International Committee of the Red Cross, 19 Avenue de la Paix, CH-1202-Geneva, Switzerland. maureen.bennett@ozemail.com.auNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

15970026

Citation

Bennett, M, and R Coninx. "The Mystery of the Wooden Leg: Vitamin C Deficiency in East African Prisons." Tropical Doctor, vol. 35, no. 2, 2005, pp. 81-4.
Bennett M, Coninx R. The mystery of the wooden leg: vitamin C deficiency in East African prisons. Trop Doct. 2005;35(2):81-4.
Bennett, M., & Coninx, R. (2005). The mystery of the wooden leg: vitamin C deficiency in East African prisons. Tropical Doctor, 35(2), pp. 81-4.
Bennett M, Coninx R. The Mystery of the Wooden Leg: Vitamin C Deficiency in East African Prisons. Trop Doct. 2005;35(2):81-4. PubMed PMID: 15970026.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - The mystery of the wooden leg: vitamin C deficiency in East African prisons. AU - Bennett,M, AU - Coninx,R, PY - 2005/6/23/pubmed PY - 2005/7/22/medline PY - 2005/6/23/entrez SP - 81 EP - 4 JF - Tropical doctor JO - Trop Doct VL - 35 IS - 2 N2 - Vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) is an uncommon disease in modern times, and therefore easily misdiagnosed when it appears. While visiting prisoners in East Africa, health delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) encountered prisoners suffering from a hitherto undiagnosed 'mysterious' illness, consisting mainly of swollen and hard legs, that had not responded to various treatments given by the local health centre or hospital. The ICRC set out to investigate the nature of this disease and examined 133 prisoners with the suspected clinical symptoms described as 'wooden leg' syndrome in 10 different prisons. Serum ascorbic acid levels were measured and a food basket analysis done. The diagnosis of scurvy was confirmed. All patients responded to standard treatment with oral ascorbic acid. The clinical presentation of scurvy in these East African prisons seems to be somewhat different from the classic descriptions, but is in line with historic records of the disease. Treatment is easy and cheap, and response to treatment is quick. Scurvy remains a problem in prisons in Africa and clinicians working in prisons need to be aware of its presence and its presentations. SN - 0049-4755 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/15970026/The_mystery_of_the_wooden_leg:_vitamin_C_deficiency_in_East_African_prisons_ L2 - http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1258/0049475054036896?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=pubmed DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -