In unwelcome and frankly bizarre news, scurvy has made something of a comeback down under.
The disease most notably associated with seafarers from days of yore – unable to access fruit and vegetables on long journeys – has reappeared in Australia. Caused by a vitamin C deficiency, the fatal disease can cause bruising, bleeding gums, joint pain and a longer recovery time from wounds.
While still prevalent in developing countries, the disease has long been considered a disease western countries had moved past.
It’s return was diagnosed by Professor Jenny Gunton, head of the Centre for Diabetes, Obesity and Endocrinology research at the Westmead Institute, when treating patients at a hospital in Sydney, Australia.
Professor Gunton was trying to discover why patients had long-running unhealed wounds and discovered that a dose of vitamin C cured the problems.
What Gunton discovered was that scurvy may be reappearing due to poor dietary habits.
“When I asked about their diet, one person was eating little or no fresh fruit and vegetables, but the rest ate fair amounts of vegetables; they were simply over-cooking them, which destroys the vitamin C,” she says.
Fortunately, treatment for scurvy is pretty straightforward and involves taking vitamin C supplements and eating food that’s high in vitamin C.