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DH investigates confirmed case of solanaceous alkaloid poisoning

     The Department of Health (DH) today (December 28) announced for the public's information a confirmed case of solanaceous alkaloid poisoning after consumption of Chinese herbs.

     A DH spokesman said that the incident first came to light because of notification by the Hospital Authority (HA). On December 22, a 63-year-old lady developed symptoms and signs compatible with solanaceous alkaloid poisoning, including confusion, generalised weakness and dilated pupils, after consuming Chinese herbal medicines for health maintenance dispensed by a licensed Chinese medicine retailer, Cheung Hong Medical Company in Tsing Yi. Her symptoms subsided after receiving treatment in a public hospital and she was discharged on December 25.

     The DH conducted immediate investigation upon the notification. Preliminary investigation revealed that the patient was dispensed with 13 Chinese herbs by the retailer. The herbs dispensed to the patient could not account for the presence of solanaceous alkaloids as detected, based on the Chinese medicine literature. Field investigation did not identify gross contamination of the herbs by solanaceous alkaloid-containing herbs. Samples of Chinese herbs were obtained from the retailer for chemical analysis. The investigation is continuing.

     The HA's laboratory testing results today showed the presence of solanaceous alkaloids in both the lady's urine and the herbal remnant.

     Solanaceous alkaloids cause anticholinergic symptoms like blurred vision, dry mouth, dizziness and confusion. They can lead to death in severe cases.

     So far, the DH has not received any other report of related adverse incidents. 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.

Ends/Friday, December 28, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:17


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