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Forensic Sci Int. 2002 Aug 28;128(3):123-6.

A severe case of multiple metal poisoning in a child treated with a traditional medicine.

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  • 1Toxicology Unit, Department of Chemical Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, 7 York Road, Parktown 2193, Gauteng, South Africa.


A child who had been treated orally with a traditional medicine was admitted to hospital with diarrhoea, vomiting and severe metabolic acidosis. Following treatment for renal failure and supportive therapy, the child was discharged well. Analysis of the traditional remedy, a black powder, using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission revealed very high concentrations of iron and manganese. Other metals were also present at lesser, but still high concentrations. The composition suggested that this was a sample obtained from a surface fracture in Transvaal dolomite. Metal poisoning is not uncommon following the use of non-herbal traditional remedies in South Africa, but in this case the mixture appears to have been a combination of many metals and salts.

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