Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Oct;110 Suppl 5:851-4.

Silent latency periods in methylmercury poisoning and in neurodegenerative disease.

Author information

Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


This article discusses three examples of delay (latency) in the appearance of signs and symptoms of poisoning after exposure to methylmercury. First, a case is presented of a 150-day delay period before the clinical manifestations of brain damage after a single brief (<1 day) exposure to dimethylmercury. The second example is taken from the Iraq outbreak of methylmercury poisoning in which the victims consumed contaminated bread for several weeks without any ill effects. Indeed, signs of poisoning did not appear until weeks or months after exposure stopped. The last example is drawn from observations on nonhuman primates and from the sequelae of the Minamata, Japan, outbreak in which low chronic doses of methylmercury may not have produced observable behavioral effects for periods of time measured in years. The mechanisms of these latency periods are discussed for both acute and chronic exposures. Parallels are drawn with other diseases that affect the central nervous system, such as Parkinson disease and post-polio syndrome, that also reflect the delayed appearance of central nervous system damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center