The Department of Health (DH) is today (August 22) investigating a confirmed case of solanaceous alkaloid poisoning after consumption of Chinese herbs.
"Upon notification of a suspected case of solanaceous alkaloid poisoning by the Hospital Authority (HA) yesterday, the DH commenced investigations immediately," a spokesman for the DH said.
The female patient, aged 32, developed symptoms and signs compatible with solanaceous alkaloid poisoning on August 14, including dilated pupils, dry mouth, acute retention of urine and tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate), about 30 minutes after consuming a broth prepared from Chinese herbs purchased from a licensed Chinese herbal medicine retailer, Sun Chung Nam Medicine Company, located at Shop No. 2, Shun Fung Building, 5-7 Fung Yau Street North, Yuen Long, New Territories, for health maintenance and relief of back pain. She attended Pok Oi Hospital for management on the same day and was discharged on August 16.
Solanaceous alkaloids were detected in her urine and the herbal broth samples upon laboratory testing by the HA.
The DH's initial investigations revealed that the patient had purchased 15 Chinese herbs from the retailer based on a herbal formula obtained from her friend. According to the Chinese medicine literature, the concerned herbs could not account for the presence of the solanaceous alkaloids detected.
"Field investigation at the retailer conducted so far has not identified gross contamination of the herbs by solanaceous alkaloid-containing herbs. Samples of Chinese herbs were obtained from the retailer for chemical analysis. Investigation is continuing," the spokesman said.
"Solanaceous alkaloids cause anticholinergic symptoms including blurred vision, dry mouth, dizziness and confusion. Deaths may result in severe cases," the spokesman added.
So far, the DH has not received similar reports of poisoning related to this incident. While the investigation continues, health-care professionals should be on the alert and report to the DH if they come across suspicious cases.
As a precaution, members of the public with Chinese herbs dispensed by the retailer are advised to stop using them if they feel unwell and to seek advice from health-care professionals as soon as possible.
Ends/Friday, August 22, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:08