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Suspected case of mad honey poisoning under CHP investigation

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (May 25) investigating a case of suspected mad honey poisoning, and hence urged members of the public to buy honey from a reliable source or apiary.

     The patient is a 49-year-old woman who developed dizziness, abdominal pain, nausea and transient loss of consciousness yesterday (May 24) about one hour after consuming honey at home. She was subsequently admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Hong Kong Adventist Hospital for further management. She is currently in stable condition.

     Her clinical diagnosis is suspected grayanotoxin poisoning.

     Initial enquiries by the CHP revealed that the honey was brought from Nepal by the patient. Two food collaterals have remained asymptomatic so far.

     The CHP's investigations are proceeding.

     "Mad honey poisoning is caused by ingestion of honey containing grayanotoxins derived from plants belonging to the Ericaceae family, including rhododendrons. Grayanotoxins are neurotoxins which can affect nerves and muscles. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, hypersalivation and paresthesia shortly after ingestion. In severe cases, hypotension, bradycardia or shock may occur," a CHP spokesman explained.

     Members of the public are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice:

* Buy honey from a reliable source or apiary;
* Discard honey with bitter or astringent taste as grayanotoxin-containing honey may cause a burning sensation in the throat;
* Seek more information on the types of flowers used to produce the honey whenever possible; and
* Travellers to areas such as the Black Sea region of Turkey, North America, Korea, Japan, Nepal and New Zealand should pay special attention as there have been reported cases of grayanotoxin poisoning which were attributed to honey from these areas.

Ends/Sunday, May 25, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:50


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