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Publication | 2006

Workgroup Report: Public Health Strategies for Reducing Aflatoxin Exposure in Developing Countries

In response to consecutive outbreaks of acute aflatoxicosis in Kenya in 2004 – 2005 (responsible for over 150 deaths) a workshop of international experts and health officials was convened in Geneva, July 2005, by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. The goals of the workshop were to identify public health strategies for the reduction of morbidity and mortality associated with the consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated food in the developing world and to outline an integrated plan that more effectively combines public health and agricultural approaches to the control of aflatoxins. Following discussions concerning what is known about aflatoxins, participants were able to identify gaps in current knowledge about acute and chronic human health effects of aflatoxins, surveillance and food monitoring, analytic methods, and the efficacy of intervention strategies. Four themes emerged from the workshop and warrant immediate attention: 1) quantify the human health impacts and the burden of disease due to aflatoxin exposure; 2) compile an inventory, evaluate the efficacy, and disseminate results of on-going intervention strategies; 3) develop and augment the disease surveillance, food monitoring, laboratory, and public health response capacity of affected regions; and 4) develop a response protocol that can be used in the event of an outbreak of acute aflatoxicosis. This report summarizes the workshop findings.