Poisoned by the "meat of the Gods"
Teonanacatel, the "meat of the Gods" - the Aztecs were already familiar with this mushroom with the mysterious name. They ate it because of its intoxicating effect during their cult ceremonies. Two young people from Germany learned the hard way that catchy names do not always keep their promise. They had ordered the Mexican magic mushrooms on the Internet and ingested a small amount. The result was sobering; instead of the hoped for pleasant effect, they were both taken to hospital suffering from a state of confusion. The clinic informed the Central for the Recording and Assessment of Intoxications within the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
Aside from this case, a further 7,832 cases of poisoning were notified to BfR in 2002, albeit none of them as spectacular as the above. The latest addition of the "Ärztliche Mitteilungen" (Medical Notifications) contains an evaluation and assessment of the poisonings situation in Germany which is now available online on the BfR homepage (www.bfr.bund.de). More than 90% of the cases notified in 2002 were linked to accidents at work. The poisonings were caused, for instance, by chemicals used at work, incidents, transport accidents with dangerous goods but also by household chemicals and incorrest use of medicinal products and pesticides. In 16 cases the poisonings proved fatal; 11 of them were suicide-related.
Since 1990 notifications of poisonings have been collected. The evaluation and assessment of these notifications are important risk assessment tools for BfR. Action options for risk management can be derived from the results. According to § 16e Chemicals Act (Chemikaliengesetz) doctors, poison control centres and employers' liability insurance assocations have a duty of information. Although the number if notifications received by BfR has increased markedly since 1990, the Institute believes that by no means all cases of poisoning are notified. BfR, therefore, appeals once again to practising doctors to notify, if possible, all cases of poisoning to the Centre.
The new brochure outlines the causes and course of poisonings. The annex contains an overview of all intoxications notified since August 1990, samples for notification forms for poisonings or incidents as well as a register with the addresses of the poison control centres and environmental outpatient clinics in the Federal Republic of Germany. You can access the new brochure and the issues of the Ärztliche Mitteilungen starting from 1990 onwards on www.bfr.bund.de (Publications/Brochures) in German. They can be downloaded and printed out as a PDF file.