CHP investigates two suspected cases of gelsemine poisoning after consumption of wild plant

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (December 14) investigating two suspected cases of gelsemine poisoning related to consumption of wild plant, and appealed to members of the public not to collect or consume any unknown plants from parks or the countryside as they may be poisonous.

     The cases involve two males aged 74 and 63, who developed symptoms including dizziness, palpitation, shortness of breath and blurred vision on December 13 after consuming self-prepared broth containing wild plants at home respectively. The wild plants were self-picked while they went hiking together in the mountainside at Mount Hallowers, Sai Kung on December 12. The 74-year-old male was sent to Prince of Wales Hospital and was transferred to North District Hospital, and the 63-year-old male was sent to Caritas Medical Centre on December 13. Both of them are under treatment in Intensive Care Units and both are currently in stable condition.
     Urine samples of both males as well as the remnants of the herbal broth and the wild plant have been sent for laboratory testing by the hospitals. The urine sample of the 63-year-old male was found to contain gelsemine after laboratory testing.
     The CHP's investigations are ongoing.

     "Gelsemine is a natural toxin found in some plants or Chinese medicinal herbs such as Gelsemium. Symptoms of gelsemine poisoning include dizziness, blurred vision, numbness, palpitation, generalised weakness, nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, respiratory depression, coma or even death may occur," a spokesman for the CHP explained.
     The spokesman reminded members of the public, especially hikers, to refrain from picking wild plants, including their flowers, fruits, roots and stems, from countryside as many of them might contain lethal natural toxins. If one feels unwell after consumption of any wild plants, they should seek advice from healthcare workers immediately.

Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Issued at HKT 19:45