Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Scurvy makes sur­prise re­turn in Aus­tralia

Doc­tors in Aus­tralia have re­ported a resur­gence in pa­tients suf­fer­ing from scurvy. The dis­ease, his­tor­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with sea ex­plor­ers, has been found in about a dozen di­a­betes pa­tients at West­mead Hos­pi­tal in western Syd­ney. Scurvy is now a rare con­di­tion caused by hav­ing too lit­tle vi­ta­min C, or ascor­bic acid, in your diet. Pro­fes­sor Jenny Gun­ton dis­cov­ered the lat­est cases after treat­ing a pa­tient whose leg wound would not heal. The find­ings have been de­tailed in the in­ter­na­tional journal Di­a­betic Medicine. “In the re­port that’s just come out I’ve had seven peo­ple with vi­ta­min C de­fi­cien­cies,” said Prof Gun­ton, who heads the Cen­tre for Di­a­betes, Obe­sity and En­docrinol­ogy re­search at The West­mead In­sti­tutes. “Since that time there would have been another six or seven.” She said scurvy could be more wide­spread than pre­vi­ously thought. “There’s no par­tic­u­lar link to di­a­betes ... ex­cept that if you have a poor qual­ity diet you’re more likely to get di­a­betes,” Prof Gun­ton said. “But of course, a lot of peo­ple with di­a­betes eat per­fectly rea­son­able di­ets.” Health au­thor­i­ties in Aus­tralia do not gen­er­ally test for scurvy or keep sta­tis­tics on pa­tients suf­fer­ing from it. How­ever, Prof Gun­ton said the dis­ease was easy to pre­vent. “Eat some fruit, eat some veg­eta­bles - and don’t over­cook the veg­eta­bles,” she said. “If you re­ally can’t man­age that, take one vi­ta­min C a day. But healthy diet is the bet­ter fix.”

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