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 mercury. 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 anuria. 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 long periods. 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'