Bitter Harvest: Cassava and Konzo, the Crippling Disease

by Amy Maxmen and Neil Brandvold
Global Health NOW, 3 October 2016

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Little known in the West, the paralytic disease konzo has inflicted polio-like symptoms on thousands of the most impoverished people in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other African countries. Eating insufficiently processed cassava, which naturally contains cyanide, can lead to irreversible paralysis of the legs. Konzo leaves its victims dependent on others for their livelihood and forces them to use makeshift crutches or crawl in the dirt. Science journalist Amy Maxmen and photographer Neil Brandvold travelled to the DRC this summer to document konzo’s toll and what might be done to stem the disease.

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