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Journal Article


Kamensky OL, Horton D, Kingsley DP, Bridges CC. J. Emerg. Med. 2019; 56(3): 275-278.


Department of Biomedical Sciences, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, Georgia.


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






BACKGROUND: Mercury poisoning is an uncommon diagnosis in the United States, but it is a differential diagnosis that physicians should consider because it can lead to potentially fatal complications if untreated. Due to the nonspecific presentation of mercury poisoning, which includes symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, misdiagnosis may occur unless a proper history is taken. CASE REPORT: In the present case, a white female patient was misdiagnosed repeatedly with a viral illness and sent home from the local hospital. The patient presented with a diffuse full-body rash, fever, myalgias, headache, peripheral neuropathy, oral paresthesias, and tender cervical posterior lymphadenopathy. After obtaining a thorough history, it was discovered that the patient and her family were exposed to mercury through a spill of elemental mercury in their home. Blood mercury levels in the patient were 170 ng/mL. The patient was treated with a course of dimercaprol. Her symptoms improved and she was discharged on hospital day 5. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: Ultimately, mercury poisoning is a treatable condition, but if exposure continues and the patient is not treated, it may lead to complications such as severe pneumonitis, renal tubular necrosis, and neurological dysfunction. In some instances, neurological symptoms may persist even if the source of exposure is removed. For these reasons, recognition and prompt treatment after a suspected exposure is important.

Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Language: en


intoxication; mercury; poisoning


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