Hong Kong – CHP investigates case of suspected mad honey poisoning

CHP investigates case of suspected mad honey poisoning

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     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (June 15) investigating a case of suspected mad honey poisoning, and reminded the public to buy honey from a reliable source or apiary.

     A 35-year-old male developed dizziness and vomiting around 30 minutes after consuming honey yesterday (June 14). He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Kwong Wah Hospital today and was admitted for treatment due to hypotension and bradycardia. The patient was in stable condition. His clinical diagnosis was suspected mad honey poisoning.

     Initial enquiries revealed that the patient consumed honey mailed to Hong Kong by a friend from Nepal. The poisoning might have been caused by grayanotoxin. Investigations are ongoing.

     “Mad honey poisoning is caused by ingestion of honey containing grayanotoxins derived from plants belonging to the Ericaceae family, including rhododendrons. Grayanotoxins are neurotoxins which can affect nerves and muscles. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, hypersalivation and paraesthesia shortly after ingestion. In severe cases, hypotension, bradycardia or shock may occur,” a spokesman for the CHP explained.

     Members of the public are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice:

  • Buy honey from a reliable source or apiary;
  • Discard honey with a bitter or astringent taste – grayanotoxin-containing honey may cause a burning sensation in the throat; and
  • Pay special attention to honey from India, Nepal and the Black Sea region of Türkiye as there have been grayanotoxin poisoning cases connected with honey from these areas.

Hong Kong – Suspected red tide sighted at Shek O Beach

Suspected red tide sighted at Shek O Beach

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Attention TV and radio announcers:

Please broadcast the following as soon as possible:

     Here is an item of interest to swimmers.

     The Leisure and Cultural Services Department announced today (May 13) that due to the sighting of a suspected red tide, the red flag has been hoisted at Shek O Beach in Southern District, Hong Kong Island. Beachgoers are advised not to swim at the beach until further notice.

Hong Kong – CHP investigates case of suspected mad honey poisoning

CHP investigates case of suspected mad honey poisoning

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     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (February 2) investigating a case of suspected mad honey poisoning, and reminded the public to buy honey from a reliable source or apiary.

     A 56-year-old male developed dizziness and vomiting around 30 minutes after consuming honey on January 31. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Queen Mary Hospital and was admitted for treatment on the same day due to hypotension and bradycardia. The patient was in stable condition and was discharged yesterday (February 1). His clinical diagnosis was suspected mad honey poisoning.

     Initial enquiries revealed that the patient consumed home-made honey mailed to Hong Kong by a friend from Nepal. The poisoning might have been caused by grayanotoxin. Investigations are ongoing.

     “Mad honey poisoning is caused by ingestion of honey containing grayanotoxins derived from plants belonging to the Ericaceae family, including rhododendrons. Grayanotoxins are neurotoxins which can affect nerves and muscles. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, hypersalivation and paraesthesia shortly after ingestion. In severe cases, hypotension, bradycardia or shock may occur,” a spokesman for the CHP explained.

     Members of the public are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice:
 

  • Buy honey from a reliable source or apiary;
  • Discard honey with a bitter or astringent taste – grayanotoxin-containing honey may cause a burning sensation in the throat; and
  • Pay special attention to honey from India, Nepal and the Black Sea region of Türkiye as there have been grayanotoxin poisoning cases connected with honey from these areas.

Hong Kong – CHP investigates two suspected food poisoning clusters

CHP investigates two suspected food poisoning clusters

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     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (December 30) investigating two suspected food poisoning clusters affecting nine persons, and reminded the public to maintain personal, food and environmental hygiene to prevent foodborne diseases.

     The first cluster involved four females, aged between 25 and 38, who developed abdominal pain and diarrhoea about 9 to 12 hours after consuming food provided by a caterer on December 21.

     The other cluster involved two males and three females, aged between two and 71, who developed similar symptoms about 9 to 18 hours after consuming the food ordered from the same caterer on December 25.

     All of the affected persons have not sought medical advice. All affected persons are in stable condition.

     Initial investigations of the CHP revealed that the affected persons had consumed common food and the food concerned were diced beef and beef ribs in red wine sauce. The incident might have been caused by Clostridium perfringens.

     The personnel from the Centre for Food Safety of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department have conducted an inspection at the caterer’s premises. The CHP’s investigation is ongoing.

     To prevent foodborne diseases, members of the public are reminded to maintain personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times. When dining out:

  • Patronise only reliable and licensed restaurants;
  • Avoid eating raw seafood;
  • Be a discerning consumer in choosing cold dishes, including sashimi, sushi and raw oysters, at a buffet;
  • Pre-cooked or leftover foods should be stored and reheated properly before consumption;
  • Ensure food is thoroughly cooked before eating during a hotpot or barbecue meal;
  • Handle raw and cooked foods carefully and separate them completely during the cooking process;
  • Use two sets of chopsticks and utensils to handle raw and cooked foods;
  • Do not patronise illegal food hawkers;
  • Drink boiled water;
  • Do not try to use salt, vinegar, wine or wasabi to kill bacteria as they are not effective; and
  • Always wash hands before eating and after going to the toilet.

Hong Kong – CHP investigates suspected food poisoning case related to calcium oxalate raphide

CHP investigates suspected food poisoning case related to calcium oxalate raphide

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     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (December 17) investigating a case of suspected food poisoning and reminded the public not to pick or consume wild plants, and to beware of vegetables containing calcium oxalate raphide to avoid food poisoning due to accidental consumption of giant alocasia.
 
     The female patient, aged 51, developed oral and throat numbness shortly after consuming a home-grown taro in Wan Chai yesterday (December 16). She attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Ruttonjee Hospital yesterday and was admitted for further treatment on the same day. She is now in stable condition and discharged today. The clinical diagnosis was suspected calcium oxalate raphide poisoning.
 
     The CHP’s investigation is ongoing.
 
     Taro is a popular ingredient used to prepare various dishes and desserts. However, some plants look like taro (e.g. giant alocasia) but contain toxins which can cause food poisoning. Consuming plants containing calcium oxalate raphide (a needle-shaped crystal of the chemical) can injure the skin and mucous membranes and cause irritation, such as numbness and burning sensation of the tongue, mouth and lips, and swelling of the tongue and lips. Consumption of vegetables accidentally mixed with calcium oxalate raphide-containing plants may also cause food poisoning.
 
     Members of the public should take heed of the following when consuming vegetables:
 

  • Do not pick or consume wild plants;
  • Purchase vegetables from reliable suppliers; and
  • Remove any plants mixed with edible vegetables and wash them thoroughly before cooking and consumption.

 
     ​​The public may visit the pages on Food Poisoning Related to the Giant Alocasia and Calcium Oxalate Food Poisoning of the Centre for Food Safety of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for more information and health advice.