The debilitating condition remembered as a disease of pirates, Scurvy
is still found in a developed country like Canada
. The disease, which is caused by a vitamin C deficiency
, can result in bruising, weakness, anemia, gum disease, hemorrhage, tooth loss, and even death if undiagnosed and untreated.
Researchers from McMaster University surveyed the data of patients of Hamilton's two hospital systems over nine years and found 52 with low Vitamin C
levels. This included 13 patients who could be diagnosed as having scurvy
, and an additional 39 who tested positive for scurvy
but did not have documented symptoms.
It was found that among those with scurvy
, some were related to alcohol use disorder or to bariatric surgery but the majority were related to other causes of malnutrition such as persistent vomiting, purposeful dietary restrictions, mental illness, social isolation and dependence on others for food.
Dr John Neary, Associate Professor of Medicine at McMaster and the senior author of the study told Thailand Medical
News via a phone interview, "Scurvy
is seen as a disease irrelevant to the modern world, but it still exists, and clinicians caring for at-risk patients should be aware of it and know how to diagnose it."
The findings of the study was published this month in the Journal of General Internal Medicine
Dr Kayla Dadgar, who did the research as a medical student at McMaster, and is the first author, further added, "Scurvy
should be a 'never event' in a healthy society. That it still occurs in Canada
in our time indicates that we are not supporting vulnerable people as we should."
The individuals with scurvy
who were given Vitamin C
had a rapid recovery of their symptoms.
Reference : Kayla Dadgar et al, Clinical Profile of Scurvy in Hamilton Since 2009: a Cohort Study, Journal of General Internal Medicine (2020). DOI: 10.1007/s11606-020-05636-1