The Scourge Of Aflatoxins In Kenya: A 60-Year Review (1960 To 2020)


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Aflatoxins are endemic in Kenya. The 2004 outbreak of acute aflatoxicosis in the country was one of the unprecedented epidemics of human aflatoxin poisoning recorded in mycotoxin history. In this study, an elaborate review was performed to synthesize Kenya's major findings in relation to aflatoxins, their prevalence, detection, quantification, exposure assessment, prevention, and management in various matrices. Data retrieved indicate that the toxins are primarily biosynthesized by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus, with the eastern part of the country reportedly more aflatoxin-prone. Aflatoxins have been reported in maize and maize products (Busaa, chan'gaa, githeri, irio, muthokoi, uji, and ugali), peanuts and its products, rice, cassava, sorghum, millet, yams, beers, dried fish, animal feeds, dairy and herbal products, and sometimes in tandem with other mycotoxins. The highest total aflatoxin concentration of 58,000 mu g/kg has been reported in maize. At least 500 acute human illnesses and 200 deaths due to aflatoxins have been reported. The causes and prevalence of aflatoxins have been grossly ascribed to poor agronomic practices, low education levels, and inadequate statutory regulation and sensitization. Low diet diversity has aggravated exposure to aflatoxins in Kenya because maize as a dietetic staple is aflatoxin-prone. Detection and surveillance are only barely adequate, though some exposure assessments have been conducted. There is a need to widen diet diversity as a measure of reducing exposure due to consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated foods.
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