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Alert on case of death suspected to be related to aconitum alkaloid poisoning

     The Department of Health (DH) today (April 27) announced for the public's early information a death case which is suspected to be related to aconitum alkaloid poisoning after consumption of Chinese herbs.

     A DH spokesman elaborates that the above comes to light when the Department investigates into a referral from the Hospital Authority (HA).

     "The history goes that an 83-year-old Chinese woman with history of congestive heart failure, renal mass, anemia and vertebral collapse used to consult a registered Chinese medicine practitioner (CMP), Mr Lam Ting-to (Registration number: 005000) at Flat 11A, 518-520 Nathan Road, Kowloon in the past two months. Of relevance was the last consultation on April 25 where herbal prescription was given. She consumed the herbal decoction twice the next day and shortly afterwards was admitted to a public hospital with signs compatible with aconitum alkaloid poisoning, including unconsciousness, fast pulse rate, ventricular tachycardia. The patient finally succumbed on the same day," the spokesman said.

     "Preliminary investigation at the clinic premises revealed that the Chinese herb that was prescribed, processed Radix Aconiti Lateralis could be contaminated by another herb, processed Radix Aconiti, both of which contain aconitum alkaloids," the spokesman continued.

     "Chinese herbal medicines known to contain alkaloid constituents can be toxic. If used improperly, aconitum alkaloids can cause discomfort like numbness of the mouth and limbs, nausea, vomiting and peripheral weakness, and even lead to life-threatening breathing difficulties and cardiac arrhythmia," the spokesman said.

     "DH has received no related adverse events so far, and investigation is continuing so as to ascertain the source of the contamination. Anyone who have consulted the CMP and have been prescribed with Radix Aconiti Lateralis should immediately stop using the herbal medicine and contact the CMP for advice immediately. Anyone who are either unsure or feeling unwell should seek advice from their health-care professionals," the spokesman advised.

     "DH has referred the case to Police for follow up,"the spokesman added.

Ends/Friday, April 27, 2012
Issued at HKT 22:28


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