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Suspected case of aconitum alkaloid poisoning under DH investigation

     The Department of Health (DH) is today (February 8) investigating a case of suspected aconitum alkaloid poisoning affecting a 58-year-old man after he consumed a Chinese herb.

     The DH received notification of the case from the Hospital Authority today. The patient developed symptoms compatible with aconitum alkaloid poisoning, including dizziness, confusion and cardiac arrhythmia after consuming a self-prescribed Chinese herbal medicine, processed Radix Aconiti Kusnezoffii, for his hypertension yesterday (February 7). He was subsequently admitted to Queen Mary Hospital for medical treatment on the same day and is currently in a stable condition.

     Preliminary investigation revealed that the herb was purchased from a local herbal shop but the patient could not provide details at this stage.

     The DH's investigation is proceeding.

     Processed Radix Aconiti Kusnezoffii contains aconitum alkaloids. If consumed orally, it should first be decocted. Aconitum alkaloids can be toxic. If used improperly, they can cause discomfort like numbness of the mouth and limbs, nausea, vomiting and peripheral weakness, and can even lead to life-threatening conditions like breathing difficulties and cardiac arrhythmia.

     Members of the public are advised against self-prescription of Chinese herbs and should consult a Chinese medicine practitioner regarding consumption of Chinese herbs. In addition, they should purchase Chinese medicines from credible sources.

Ends/Friday, February 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:48


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