Cases of poisoning arising in camp will usually be confined to two causes—the eating of poisoned foods and eating poisonous mushrooms. In these days of tinned meats and vegetables it is not unusual to hear of persons becoming seriously and even fatally poisoned by eating certain canned goods. Canned fish and beef are the worst offenders in this regard.
The symptoms of ptomaine poisoning are characteristic and generally easily traced to the material producing them, There is a dryness and metallic taste in the mouth shortly after eating suspected food. This is followed by severe cramps, vomiting, violent purging, rapid loss of strength, great depression and coldness of the surface of the body. The hands and face break out in clammy sweat and the temperature falls below normal. The picture is very characteristic and when once seen is readily recognized.
The treatment consists in getting rid of the offending substance as quickly as possible. Nothing accomplishes this more readily than a quick emetic. Apomorphia hydro-chlorate furnishes us with the most convenient emetic, though mustard water or hot salt water will do. Take a tablet of I/10 gr. apomorphia hypodermically, or two tablets of the same size by the mouth, followed by a swallow of hot water. Hypodermically the emetic acts in a very short time; by the mouth it requires somewhat longer, say ten minutes. Purge the bowels with elaterin, one tablet, then keep up the vital forces by administering strychnia, 1/60 gr. every hour or two, watching the circulation meanwhile.
In severe cases, in addition to the strychnia, it may become necessary to resort to external heat, hot water bottles, hot stones, etc. The patient is much debilitated for several days and requires careful diet.
Moody, Charles Stuart. Backwoods Surgery & Medicine. New York: Outing Pub., 1916. Print.
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