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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010 Feb 5;59(4):102-4.

Jimsonweed poisoning associated with a homemade stew - Maryland, 2008.


In the early morning hours of July 9, 2008, six adult family members were admitted to a hospital emergency department in Maryland with hallucinations, confusion, mydriasis, and tachycardia of approximately 3-4 hours duration. Approximately 4-5 hours earlier, all six family members had shared a meal of homemade stew and bread. Subsequent investigation by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (MCDHHS) and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH) determined that the stew contained jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), a plant in the nightshade family that contains atropine and scopolamine and has been associated with anticholinergic-type poisoning. This report describes the poisoning incident, which resulted in six hospitalizations, and the subsequent multidisciplinary investigation. Health-care providers and public health officials should be aware that jimsonweed poisoning can occur among many age groups, including younger persons, who typically consume the plant material for recreational purposes, or persons of any age group who might unknowingly ingest the plant. A prompt diagnosis of jimsonweed poisoning is complicated by the difficulties in eliciting exposure histories in persons with altered mental status and the variable presentations of affected persons. Consultation with horticulturalists, poison control centers, and specialized laboratories might be necessary to investigate cases and outbreaks.

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