Scurvy makes surprise return in Australia

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Scurvy makes surprise return in Australia

Image caption
Eating a large orange each day provides enough vitamin C for the body

Doctors in Australia have reported a resurgence in patients suffering from scurvy.

The disease, historically associated with sea explorers, has been found in seven diabetes patients at Westmead Hospital in western Sydney.

Scurvy is now a rare condition caused by having too little vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, in your diet.

Professor Jenny Gunton discovered the latest cases after treating a patient whose leg wound would not heal.

She said scurvy could be more widespread than previously thought.

“There”s no particular link to diabetes … except that if you have a poor quality diet you”re more likely to get diabetes,” said Prof Gunton, who heads the Centre for Diabetes, Obesity and Endocrinology research at The Westmead Institutes.

“But of course, a lot of people with diabetes eat perfectly reasonable diets.”

What is scurvy?

Health authorities in Australia do not generally test for scurvy or keep statistics on patients suffering from it.

However, Prof Gunton said the disease was easy to prevent.

“Eat some fruit, eat some vegetables – and don”t overcook the vegetables,” she told the BBC.

“If you really can”t manage that, take one vitamin C diet a day. But healthy diet is the better fix.”

Is scurvy making a comeback?