Konzo prevention in six villages in the DRC and the dependence of konzo prevalence on cyanide intake and malnutrition

J. P. Banea, J. Howard Bradbury, C. Mandombi, D. Nahimana, Ian C. Denton, Matthew P. Foster, N. Kuwa, D. Tshala Katumbay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Six villages in Boko Health Zone, Bandundu Province, DRC, were studied with 4588 people, 144 konzo cases and konzo prevalences of 2.0-5.2%. Konzo incidence is increasing rapidly in this area. Food consumption scores were obtained from the households with konzo and the mean % malnutrition calculated for each village. Urine samples were obtained from 50 school children from each village and % high urinary thiocyanate content (>350. μmol/L) determined. The experimental data relating % konzo prevalence (%K) to % children with high urinary thiocyanate content (%T) and % malnutrition (%M) for the six villages were fitted to an equation %K = 0.06%T + 0.035%M. This confirms that konzo is due to a combination of high cyanide intake and malnutrition. The village women used the wetting method to remove cyanogens from cassava flour. During the 9-month intervention there were no new cases of konzo; cyanide in flour had reduced to WHO safe levels and mean urinary thiocyanate levels were greatly reduced. To prevent konzo at least 60-70% of women should use the wetting method regularly. The wetting method is now accepted by the World Bank, FAO and WHO as a sensitive intervention. Four successful konzo interventions have involved nearly 10,000 people in 13 villages, the cost is now $16 per person and the methodology is well established.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-616
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology Reports
StatePublished - Apr 7 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cassava cyanide
  • Konzo prevalence
  • Konzo prevention
  • Malnutrition
  • Urinary thiocyanate
  • Wetting method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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