On December 18, 2020, the National Poison Control Center received notification that a poisoning accident occurred due to ingestion of plant seeds, and the patients were admitted to Fengdu County People’s Hospital of Chongqing Municipality. The plant seemed to stem from the Millettia genus based on the pictures provided by one patient’s wife. To further clarify the causality of the intoxication outbreak and provide control measures, an investigation into the outbreak was conducted in collaboration with Chongqing Poison Control Center. The plants with fruits were collected at the site where the poisoning occurred, and the doctors and patients were interviewed to obtain the clinical course and treatments. Then, the species of plants was identified, and the rotenone contents of the seeds and gastric lavage samples were analyzed.
A Poisoning Outbreak Caused by Millettia Pachycarpa — Chongqing Municipality, December 2020View author affiliations
What is already known about this topic?
Millettia pachycarpa belongs to the Fabaceae family and is widely distributed in the southern China. It is toxic for the rotenone contained in its roots and seeds, and ingesting its seeds could result in poisoning.
What is added by this report?
In December, 2020, a poisoning from plant seeds occurred in Chongqing Municipality. The etiological association was confirmed based on epidemiological investigation, clinical manifestation, plant species identification, and rotenone analysis. The patient rapidly developed central nervous and respiratory depression with metabolic acidosis. The plant was identified as Millettia pachycarpa, and toxin analysis indicated that the rotenone content contained in the seeds was high enough to cause intoxication.
What are the implications for public health practice?
Millettia pachycarpa poisoning is rare but could be fatal. Efforts should be made to educate and communicate with the public, doctors, and public health practitioners that the toxic effects the seeds could be life-threating when swallowed, both accidentally or intentionally.