The pigbel story of Papua New Guinea

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1991 Jan-Feb;85(1):119-22. doi: 10.1016/0035-9203(91)90183-y.


Enteritis necroticans (EN), known as pigbel in Papua New Guinea (PNG), may be the important predisposing lesion to mid-gut volvulus, jejunal and ileal ileus and other forms of small bowel strangulation in communities where protein deprivation, poor food hygiene, epochal meat feasting and staple diets containing trypsin inhibitors co-exist. Such human habitats occur in Africa, Central and South America, western Pacific, Asian and south-east Asian cultures. Isolated outbreaks of necrotizing enteritis have been reported from Uganda, Malaysia and Indonesia but as yet no systematic epidemiological study of the prevalence of small bowel strangulations has been described in the surgical literature of 'third world' countries. Now that enteritis necroticans is preventable by vaccination, such studies should be undertaken. This paper outlines the story of pigbel and its control in PNG.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clostridium Infections* / pathology
  • Clostridium perfringens*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Enteritis* / microbiology
  • Enteritis* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / pathology
  • Necrosis
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Prognosis


  • Dietary Proteins