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CHP investigates case of mad honey poisoning
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 24) investigating a case of mad honey poisoning, and reminded the public to buy honey from a reliable source or apiary.

     The male patient, aged 61 with underlying illness, developed generalised weakness, numbness, chills and shortness of breath around 45 minutes after consuming honey alone at home on January 18. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Prince of Wales Hospital and was admitted for observation and treatment in the small hours of January 19. The patient was discharged on the same day in stable condition.

     Grayanotoxin was detected in the patient's urine sample and the honey remnant upon testing by the Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory, which matches with the clinical diagnosis, grayanotoxin poisoning.

     Initial enquiries revealed that the honey was brought from Nepal by his friend. Investigations are ongoing.

     "Mad honey poisoning is caused by ingestion of honey containing grayanotoxins derived from plants belonging to the Ericaceae family, including rhododendrons. Grayanotoxins are neurotoxins which can affect nerves and muscles. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, hypersalivation and paraesthesia shortly after ingestion. In severe cases, hypotension, bradycardia or shock may occur," a spokesman for the CHP explained.

     Members of the public are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice:
  • Buy honey from a reliable source or apiary;
  • Discard honey with bitter or astringent taste as grayanotoxin-containing honey may cause a burning sensation in the throat;
  • Seek more information on the types of flowers used to produce the honey whenever possible; and
  • Travellers to areas such as the Black Sea region of Turkey, North America, Korea, Japan, Nepal and New Zealand should pay special attention as there have been reported cases of grayanotoxin poisoning which were attributed to honey from these areas.
Ends/Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:40
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