The Role of Micronutrients and Toxic Metals in the Management of Epidemics in Cambodia

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Oct 30;18(21):11446. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182111446.


The illegal trade of wildlife in SE Asia has been identified as the likely cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. We reviewed 198 papers on the current COVID pandemic in Cambodia, diseases such as avian influenza and Nipah virus, most likely to develop into a new pandemic in Cambodia, and common features of disease that require mitigation. Artisanal goldmining uses pure mercury in the areas where wildlife is smuggled to China. Moreover, 30-40% of Cambodians are zinc deficient. High levels of arsenic in irrigation water (>1000 µg/L) are associated with very low levels of zinc in rice (5 µg/g) and rice is the primary staple food for the region. Brown rice from nine of 15 paddy fields in the arsenic zone of Cambodia had double the new guidelines of 100 µg/kg inorganic arsenic for children’s food in the EU and USA. The combination of deficiencies of essential micronutrients like zinc and pervasive presence of arsenic and mercury has the potential to compromise the immunity of many Cambodians. Innovative solutions are suggested to improve micronutrient nutrition. Toxins that suppress the immune system must be better managed to reduce the virulence of pathogens. Cambodia was not likely the source of the COVID-19 but does have problems that could result in a new pandemic.

PMID:34769963 | PMC:PMC8582812 | DOI:10.3390/ijerph182111446