Monday, 29 April 2013


It is not debatable, at the age of 32 Alexander the Great had almost literally conquered the world. Every conquest seemed to go his way or no way. Fast and furious. Just as fast as success had come his side of the divide so did death.
A ten day history of a mysterious illness left him lifeless, again literally. The ‘great’ had been conquered and vanquished by the muscles of his own body. In the 10 days he could not breath leave alone unsheathe the sword.
Nobody has ever explained to our conviction what killed Alexander the great, some say it was due to malaria. Others speculate that it was typhoid, typhoid would make its victim vomit and also has central nervous system manifestations.
For the world’s love of drama and intrigue, poisoning was the most plausible explanation. For Alexander’s  symptoms of vomiting, tremors and seizures, a plant in the genre of alkaloids known as belladonna was accepted as the most likely instrument used to stop this seemingly unstoppable man.
George H. W. Bush, in 1992 had an incident almost similar to what the Late Mutula Kilonzo had. After a tennis match, which he participated while in Japan, it is documented that the former US president vomited until he was unconscious. His was more dramatic as it was captured live by ABC news, a head of state vomiting to unconscious would definitely be attributed to poisoning, what else could it be? He later confessed having suffered from a typical flu which was confirmed.
A joke is made in Japanese that if they say they will make you ‘Bushu suru’they mean they will make you vomit and pass out like Bush.
There are several causes of sudden death. Here are some of them;
1.       Cardiac death; usually sudden and would occur within an hour or so. Vomiting may be involved together with frothing of the mouth.
2.       Respiratory; where vomiting may precede it and aspiration of the vomitus leaves you as dead as a dodo
3.       Herbal medication and some herbs we use as spices may actually be poisons. I recently experienced a case where 3 children from Giriama died suddenly after feeding on some cassava species. Their parents remained well and alive.
4.       Poisoning, accidental or intentional, may require a high index of suspicion in order to collect and process the appropriate toxicology specimens, particularly if a volatile substance is suspected. Some poisonous agents, such as cyanide, can only be smelled by genetically-able individuals (the classic burnt almond smell) and thus may go unnoticed
The onus task lies in the hands of the pathologist to interpret whatever findings they get astutely. Sensationalism must be avoided. A negative autopsy is an expected outcome, similarly a positive finding does not necessarily point towards the cause of death. It is said, a person can live with a disease which won’t necessarily be the cause of his death.
To that end, I ask, who killed Alexander the great?

#RIP Hon Mutula Kilonzo and the 3 Giriama boys 

No comments:

Post a Comment