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532 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
2 A man was given milk poisoned with corrosive sublimate and he died four days
later. ' In the visceral matters only very small quantities of mercury were found, whereas
in the vomits that had been collected there were 25 grains of corrosive sublimate.
3 A man, aged 40, was arrested and escorted by the Police from Palni to Melur.
On the way his escort allowed him to drink coffee at a hotel after which he had severe
abdominal cramps and vomiting. He was admitted to hospital where he died about a
fortnight later. Before his death he confessed to having swallowed perchloride ot mercury
at the coffee hotel. Extremely minute quantities of mercury were detected m the visceral
matters but one of the vomits was found to contain about 1-1/6 grains ol perchloride of
In his annual report for the year 1939, the Chemical Examiner, Madras, quotes an
accidental case of poisoning by mercuric chloride. A religious mendicant had been in
the habit of sucking alum to quench his thirst probably to impress spectators. One day
he took by mistake from his bag a crystal of perchloride of mercury and sucked it
thinking it to be alum. He was removed to hospital in a collapsed condition and he
died there. About one and four-fifths grains of mercuric chloride were detected in the
viscera of the deceased. In his annual report for the year 1946, the Chemical _Examiner,
Uttar Pradesh, mentions a case from Lucknow, where a sepoy died from poisoning by
a tablet of mercuric chloride which he took as a purgative.
, Mercurous chloride (calomel) is regarded as a safe medicine, but in
large doses it acts as an irritant poison, and even in medicinal doses it may
produce toxic effects in susceptible individuals. In some cases death may
occur indirectly from septic poisoning from extensive ulceration and
gangrene of the mouth and throat. Bolt73 cites the case of a man, aged 65
years, who, owing to marked idiosyncrasy to calomel, had an attack of acute
poisoning after taking a 1-grain pill. The symptoms were intense abdominal
pain, vomiting, urticarial rash, oedema of the forearms, legs, neck, eyelids
and lobes of the ears, severe pain in the right loin, scanty urine, dry skin
and a rise of temperature to 99.8°F. Recovery occurred in 4 or 5 weeks.
Calomel administered hypodermically or intramuscularly may cause
fatal poisoning. Runeberg 74 reports the case of a woman, 34 years old, who
received three hypodermic injections of li grains of calomel each in one
month, developed the symptoms of mercurial poisoning and died on the 23rd
day after the last injection. Becker 75 mentions a case of fatal poisoning
following the intramuscular injection of 1 cc. of a 10 per cent suspension of
calomel, death resulting one week after the third injection.
In his annual report for the year 1948, the Chemical Examiner, Madras,
cites a homicidal case in which a young woman, who was delivered of a male
child five months after her marriage, killed him by administering calomel in
castor oil when the child was five days old.
A homicidal case 76 of poisoning by the injection of novasurol occurred
at Cologne in the year 1926, The patient died from mercuary poisoning with
bleeding diarrhoea, inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth and
After it is absorbed into the system mercury is eliminated in the saliva,
urine and faeces, and in the milk and perspiration, if the quantity is large.
It also passes rapidly to the foetus in utero through the placental circulation.
Elimination commences within a few hours of the administration of a single
dose, and is completely within four to five days after which the metal cannot
be detected in the urine, but its excretion is very slow, if mercury is given
in repeated small doses, so that it may be detected in the solid organs after
Mercury may be detected in the bones in acute poisoning. In a case in
which a person died in Patiala very suddenly and the body was cremated,
73. Brit, Med. Jour., Aug. 14, 1921, p. 245.
74 Peterson, Haines and Webster, Leg. Med. and Toxic., Vol. II, Ed. II, p. 187.
75. Hospitalstid., 1921, 64, p. 737 ; Ibid.
76. Erich Leschke, Clin, Toxic., Eng. Transl. by Stewart and Dormer, ,1934,*,p» 35. i'