Sunday, 18 November 2018

Anticholinergic syndrome caused by contaminated herbal tea; acting swiftly to identify the source

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2017;161:D1261. []. [Article in Dutch] Oerlemans C1, de Vries I, van Riel AJHP. Author information 1 Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, Nationaal Vergiftigingen Informatie Centrum, Utrecht. Abstract BACKGROUND: Despite good manufacturing practice and quality control, consumer products can become contaminated. In some cases, this can result in severe and life-threatening intoxication with potentially fatal consequences. CASE DESCRIPTION: A 27-year-old man and a 28-year-old pregnant woman presented to the Emergency Department with severe anticholinergic syndrome after using a marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) herbal remedy, mixed into hot chocolate drink, to reduce symptoms of common cold. After a short stay in Intensive Care, the symptoms diminished and the patients could be released from hospital. The herbs were found to be contaminated with atropine, most probably derived from deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna). Analyses of the contaminated product indicated that the patients were exposed to 20-200 mg atropine, while a dose of 2 mg is already considered mildly toxic. CONCLUSION: Consultation of the Dutch National Poisons Information Center resulted in rapid detection of the contamination; close collaboration with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and the manufacturer of the product allowed rapid identification of the source of contamination and facilitated the prevention of an epidemic.