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DH investigates two cases of aconitum alkaloid poisoning

     The Department of Health (DH) is today (April 20) investigating two poisoning cases involving aconitum alkaloids. Two women consumed herbal broth prepared by a licensed retailer of Chinese herbal medicines, Kwan Yee Medicine Shop, at Shop 44, G/F, Aldrich Garden, 2 Oi Lai Street, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong, and subsequently developed compatible symptoms.

     Upon notification by the Hospital Authority (HA), the DH immediately commenced investigation. The clinical diagnoses of aconitum alkaloid poisoning were confirmed by the HA's laboratory testing and aconitum alkaloids were detected in both patients' urine samples and in the broths consumed.

     The two women, aged 27 and 56, consumed herbal broth prepared from herbs dispensed by the retailer on March 15 and April 7 respectively. Both developed dizziness, limb numbness, vomiting, palpitations and diarrhoea about an hour after consumption. They were admitted to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital for management and have been discharged.

     "Initial investigations revealed that the retailer did not take appropriate measures to avoid contamination or mix-up from handling herbal medicines to supplying broth. We have obtained samples of related herbal medicines from the retailer for laboratory analysis. Investigations are ongoing," a spokesman for the DH said.

     "Chinese herbal medicines containing aconitum alkaloids, such as processed Radix Aconiti and processed Radix Aconiti Lateralis, are mainly used to treat wind-dampness and relieve pain by warming the meridians. If improperly used, aconitum alkaloids can cause poisoning symptoms including perioral and limb numbness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, weak pulse and shortness of breath. It can be fatal in severe cases," the spokesman explained.

     The Chinese medicine practitioner stationed at the retailer is assisting the DH to trace and follow up patients' conditions. The DH has set up a hotline (2125 1133) for public enquiries in this event. Anyone feeling unwell upon consumption of herbal broths supplied by Kwan Yee Medicine Shop should call the DH's hotline, which will operate from 9am to 6pm from tomorrow (April 21) to April 22.

     Members of the public feeling unwell after consuming herbal broth prepared by the retailer are reminded to stop using the broth immediately and consult a healthcare provider.

Ends/Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:15


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