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Although fungi are known to be less pathogenic and mostly saprophytic in their nature as compared to other groups of microbes, those that produce aflatoxin have been associated with severe human disease. An example of such disease is Aflatoxicosis caused by soil-borne pathogenic fungi of the species Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus flavus. They produce a mycotoxin substance that is carcinogenic to the human liver with severe outcomes. The objective of this study was to determine urinary aflatoxin levels among the residents of Makueni County, previously affected by Aflatoxicosis.
This was a cross-sectional study that involved the use of primary data collected from 106 participants. The method for data collection included a structured questionnaire and the collection of the urine samples for aflatoxin M1 analysis at Bora Biotech Laboratories LTD. The urinary levels of AFM1 were detected by use of an ELISA kit. Data was entered in SPSS and analysed through Chi-Square for the association.
The study participants, including both male and female, had an age of between 15 and 91 years and with an average age of 41±18. Out of the 106 study participants, n=68 (72%) were females and n=26 (28%) were males. Majority of the study participants were with a median age of 24 years old. AFM1 levels were detected in 99.1% % of all urine samples at a range of 25-2337 pg./ml. The mean and median concentration of AFM1 in urine was 637.6 ± 512.7and 525 pg./mL, respectively.
The results of this study provide information on the current situation of aflatoxin exposure. From what is evident from our study a lot needs to be done to mitigate on the long-term effect of this high exposure. Therefore, the study encourages the concerned ministry to have a broader focus on the extent of aflatoxin food contamination from this region plus other regions across the country.