A child poisoned by a toxin called Abrin which is released by the seeds of a plant called Abrus Precatorius also known as Ratti or Gunchi in India has been saved by the doctors at a hospital here.
The toxin Abrin is a poison which is like viper snake venom that causes illness by getting inside the cells of a person’s body and preventing the cells from making the protein they need. Without the protein, the cells die and eventually it affects the whole body and the person dies.
A seven-year-old boy, RK from Bhind in Madhya Pradesh was admitted in a critical condition in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital on October 31. At the time of his admission, the child was showing symptoms of poisoning including bloody diarrhoea, swelling in the brain and shock, the hospital said in a statement.
Dr Dhiren Gupta, Senior Consultant, Department of Paediatric Emergency and Critical Care, said, “When we received the child, I was surprised to find that the child was poisoned by a poison called Abrin which is released by the seeds of a plant called Abrus Precatorius also known as Ratti or Gunchi in India. This particular toxin or poison is as dangerous and fatal as snake venom and carries a high fatality rate if not treated on time.”
“The child was unconscious, delirious (irritable), suffering from encephalopathy (swelling in the brain) and unstable vitals (high pulse rate with shock). The challenge before us was that the child was brought to us 24 hours after ingestion and lost the golden hour with unavailability of a definitive antidote,” he said.
“In this kind of poisoning, the ideal treatment is complete cleaning of the stomach within 2 hours of ingestion and charcoal therapy”, Dr Gupta said. He added that as there is no antidote for Abrin, the most important factor is avoiding Abrin exposure. If exposure cannot be avoided, then immediately Abrin should be taken out of the body as quickly as possible.
“In the hospital, Abrin poisoning is treated by giving the victim supportive medical care to minimize the effects of the poison. The type of supportive medical care depends on several factors such as the route by which the victim was poisoned (that is, whether poisoning was by breathing in, swallowing, skin or eye exposure). We did the same and the child was saved and discharged in stable condition four days after admission”, added Dr Gupta.
The hospital said that before reaching Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, RK’s younger brother, 5, who had also ingested the same seeds became critical, developed seizures, went into a coma and died within 24 hours. However, RK was brought to the hospital and was saved by the doctors.