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JACEP. 1979 Oct;8(10):401-3.

A case of water hemlock poisoning.


Water hemlock is a ubiquitous plant that can be mistaken for a turnip as in the case reported. Oral ingestion causes an explosive illness consisting of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and grand mal seizures that can progress to cyanosis and death. In the reported case a 30-year old man was found semi-comatose some 75 minutes after ingesting a "turnip". The history revealed profuse emesis shortly after eating lunch that changed from bile to frank blood. There was a mean orthostatic blood pressure change of 30 torr, with an increase in the heart rate of 10%. Neurologic examination revealed a lethargic patient. Following administration of 4 liters of Ringer's lactate the patient's blood pressure stabilized and with continued isotonic fluid maintenance he improved rapidly. This case indicates that appropriate management should be directed toward protecting the patient's airway from gastric aspiration, restoring the intravascular and extracellular volume deficit, and controlling cerebral edema.

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