Date
23 April 2019
Staff from the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre under the Hospital Authority release data on poisoning cases in Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ
Staff from the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre under the Hospital Authority release data on poisoning cases in Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ

Warning sounded over toxic wild plants

A lab under the Hospital Authority (HA) has warned members of the public against eating wild plants without confirming the safety of the species first, pointing out the fact that some plants can cause serious illness.

In a study published in the latest issue of the Hong Kong Medical Journal, the HA’s Toxicology Reference Laboratory said its data showed there were 62 plant poisoning cases in the city between 2003 and 2017.

Nearly nine in 10 victims were found to have suffered from acute intoxication soon after eating the plants in question, according to the lab.

The article noted that the three most common plants that can cause poisoning are giant alocasia, azalea and Graceful Jesamine, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Dr. Candy Ng Wai-yan, a doctor involved in the study, said some people got poisoned from toxic plants mainly because they mistakenly thought such plants were edible or might have medical effects.

As such, the lab called on the public not to eat any wild plants indiscriminately.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre (HKPIC), another agency under the HA, said on Wednesday that a total of 3,960 cases of poisoning were reported in Hong Kong in 2018, and that there were 30 deaths.

HKPIC center in-charge Dr. Tse Man-li, also a consultant at the center, revealed that five of the cases involved Hongkongers getting snake bites in the mainland, Taiwan and Thailand while traveling there.

One incident involved a female fish seller who was bitten by an octopus, the first poisoning case of its kind in Hong Kong.

Among other issues, Dr. Chan Chi-keung, an associate consultant at HKPIC, advised people to pay more attention to rodenticide, saying there were three mild poisoning cases last year that involved the accidental consumption of rat poison. 

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TL/JC/RC

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