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Animal poisons and the nervous system: what the neurologist needs to know

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor John Harris, Dr Ajith Goonetilleke


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The vast majority of us experience trivial and sometimes inconvenient bites and stings, but we never imagine that the next bite or sting might precipitate a medical emergency. Similarly, we consume seafood with little real caution, confident that at worst we might suffer a brief gastrointestinal upset. There are, however numerous animals capable of inflicting a fatal bite or sting, and it can be estimated that around 100 000 persons per year worldwide die following an envenomation. Similar numbers of people are made seriously ill following the consumption of poisonous seafood. Most of these events occur within rural or coastal communities in South East Asia, Africa, South America, and the Indo Pacific. It is commonly thought, therefore, that such problems are too esoteric to warrant serious consideration in the west. The growing interest in travel and the increasing use of exotic foods means that more and more of us may find ourselves in a situation where a better understanding of bites stings and poisonous foodstuffs might be both interesting and useful.(1 2)

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harris JB, Goonetilleke A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

Year: 2004

Volume: 75

Issue: Supplement 3

Pages: iii40-iii46

ISSN (print): 0022-3050

ISSN (electronic): 1468-330X

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group Ltd


DOI: 10.1136/jnnp.2004.045724


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