Alimentary-Toxic Anemia

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Alimentary-Toxic Anemia


or septic angina, is a disease marked by sharp reduction in the number of leukocytes, thrombocytes, and erythrocytes in the blood, as a result of the inhibition of medullary hematopoiesis. This disease is associated with the eating of grains which have been overwintered in the field(millet, oats, buckwheat, and others) and which have been infected with certain fungi of the genus Fusarium. Such grains contain poisonous substances having a benzene nucleus which has a destructive effect on the hematopoietic cells of the bone marrow. Alimentary toxic aleukia manifests itself most often during the spring months. Infarcts (necroses) of skin and mucous membranes and gangrenous pneumonia and sepsis develop, and granular leukocytes (granulocytes) disappear from the blood (agranulocytosis). Hemorrhages associated with the reduction in the number of thrombocytes (thrombocytopenia) may occur. The resulting anemia aggravates the course of the disease. (In addition to reducing the overall number of bone marrow elements, maturing of elements is retarded.)

The treatment consists of the transfusion of blood and blood components (leukocyte and thrombocyte masses); the administration of B vitamins, ascorbic acid, and hormonal preparations (glucocorticoid hormones); antibiotics; gamma globulin; and other remedies. In severe cases bone marrow is transplanted.

The prophylaxis consists of processing overwintered grains on special threshing floors and general examination of the population upon appearance of the first cases of alimentary-toxic aleukia.


Efremov, V. V. Alimentamo-toksicheskaia aleikiia. Moscow, 1948.
Kassirskii, I. A., and G. A. Alekseev. Klinicheskaia gematologiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.