Creating Waves of Awareness
1) Twitching and spasmodic jerks
2) Bending of the head backwards or episthotonos
1) Cerebro - spinal system irritation, producing local and general spasm and paralysis
2) Clark says " Its chief influence is exerted on the medulla oblongata, gastro intestinal tract and skins "
On October 5, 1992, a 23-year-old man and his 39-year-old brother were foraging for wild ginseng in the midcoastal Maine woods. The younger man collected several plants growing in a swampy area and took three bites from the root of one plant. His brother took one bite of the same root. Within 30 minutes, the younger man vomited and began to have convulsions; they walked out of the woods, and approximately 30 minutes after the younger man became ill, they were able to telephone for emergency rescue services.
Within 15 minutes of the call, emergency medical personnel arrived and found the younger man unresponsive and cyanotic with mild tachycardia, dilated pupils, and profuse salivation. Severe tonic-clonic seizures occurred and were followed by periods of apnea. He was intubated and transported to a local emergency department. Physicians performed gastric lavage and administered activated charcoal. His cardiac rhythm changed to ventricular fibrillation, and four resuscitative attempts were unsuccessful. He died approximately 3 hours after ingesting the root.
Although the older brother was asymptomatic when he arrived at the emergency department, he was treated prophylactically with gastric lavage and administered activated charcoal. He began to have seizures and exhibit delirium 2 hours after eating the root; he was stabilized and transferred to a tertiary-care center for observation. No additional adverse effects were reported.
The root ingested by the two brothers was identified as water hemlock (Cicuta maculata). In October 1993, postmortem samples of frozen liver tissue, blood, and gastric contents from the man were analyzed by high-pressure liquid chromatography for cicutoxin, a poisonous substance in water hemlock. Cicutoxin, a neurotoxin, was not detected; however, the toxin is labile and may have degraded during storage.
Reported by: K Sweeney, MD, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner; KF Gensheimer, MD, State Epidemiologist, Maine Dept of Human Svcs; J Knowlton-Field, Damariscotta, Maine. RA Smith, Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center, Dept of Veterinary Science, Univ of Kentucky, Lexington. Health Studies Br, Div of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC.
Editorial Note: Based on mortality data files maintained by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, from 1979 through 1988 (the most recent national data available) at least 58 persons in the United States died after ingesting a poisonous plant that was misidentified as an edible fruit or vegetable; inadvertent ingestion of water hemlock, as in the two cases in this report, caused at least five of these deaths.