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Skeletal fluorosis in a resettled refugee from Kakuma refugee camp

Faculty member, Michael P. Whyte, MD and collaborators had their article “Skeletal fluorosis in a resettled refugee from Kakuma refugee camp” published January 19 in the journal The Lancet.  The authors examine skeletal fluorosis in the case of a refugee who had previously resided in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya before resettling in Canada. In the case of this refugee, skeletal fluorosis resulted from exposure to high fluoride levels in drinking water at the refugee camp.

Michael P. Whyte, MD

Skeletal fluorosis causes painful damage to bones and major joints of the body. It is caused by high fluoride concentration in the body. The clinical diagnosis of skeletal fluorosis can be challenging because the symptoms and appearance of fluorosis can closely resemble other, more common bone and joint diseases. Severe forms of skeletal fluorosis results in severe pain and disability.

The authors state, “The prevalence of skeletal fluorosis in Kakuma could be under-reported. As the numbers of forcefully displaced persons rise globally, clinicians in refugee host nations should maintain a broad approach to newcomers’ health issues and consider potentially important environmental exposures in addition to infectious pathogens. Ultimately, safe drinking water endures as a fundamental principle of human health.”

Collaborators include Gabriel E Fabreau, Paul Bauman, Annalee L Coakley, Kelly Johnston, Kurt A Kennel, Jessica L Gifford, Hossein MH Sadrzadeh, Gary M Whitford and Gregory A Kline.

Skeletal fluorosis in a resettled refugee from Kakuma refugee camp