We think about Scurvy with pirates and the first fleet – a disease of the olden days but Scurvy is still around, and Brian has noticed a few more kids presenting to hospital with what turns out to be Scurvy.

Scurvy is the disease that happens when we don’t get enough vitamin C. It is rare these days, but because it is rare, it is rarely considered as possible diagnosis.

Scurvy presents after about 3 months of insufficient Vitamin C from fresh fruits and vegetables.  People present with generalised symptoms that might look like other conditions including:

  • Fatigue and feeling generally unwell
  • A loss of appetite
  • Nausea and diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Painful joints and muscles
  • Bleeding around hair follicles.

It is painful and inflamed bones that has brought kids to the orthopaedic department.

We were wondering why there seems to have been an increase in Scurvy lately and we are wondering if it is a hidden effect of lockdowns?  When kids are at school they generally have their “healthy snack” in the morning.

Some kids, for a variety of reasons, have a restricted diet, and the positive peer pressure of snack time, might be the only time they eat some fruit.  This might have been enough to keep their vitamin C levels at an adequate level.  Lockdown is hard, but the good news is that treatment usually has people feeling better in only a few days.