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IRRITANT POISONS— (Contd.)
C. MECHANICAL (VULNERANT) POISONS °
Mechanical irritants are actually not poisons inasmuch as they do not
produce any toxic symptoms by being absorbed in the blood, but they are
included in the expression " unwholesome drug or other drug " of section
328 of the Indian Penal Code, as they act mechanically by a local action,
and cause irritation of the stomach and bowels with their angular edges or
sharp points, when they are swallowed. The examples are powdered glass,
diamond powder, pins, needles, nails, chopped animal and vegetable hairs.
Symptoms.—Taken internally, powdered glass produces a sharp, burning
pain in the throat and stomach and later in the intestines. This is followed
by nausea and vomiting, the vomited matter containing streaks of blood.
There is generally cojagtipation, but sometimes there is diarrhoea. The
motions are passed witbTpain and are usually mixed with blood. Death may
occur from shock, especially if the stomach or intestine has been perforated.
At Agra, a young Mahomedan male, aged 20 years, was invited for
breakfast at his father-in-law's house, where he was given powdered glass
in the food. About 8 hours after the breakfast he complained of an intense
burning pain in the pit of the stomach, and brought up mouthfuls of blood
without any nausea or pain in the throat. The vomiting of blood was so
persistent that he became pale and had almost collapsed with a thready and
imperceptible pulse, when ergot injection and saline infusion had to be tried.
The symptoms abated after three days.
Fatal Dose,—Not known. From his experiments Lessauvagex found that
two-and-a-half drachms of powdered glass given to a cat did not cause any
harm, and a dog took six or seven ounces in eight days without suffering
the slightest inconvenience, although it was administered when the animal
was fasting and the fragments were frequently a line in length* He himself
swallowed a considerable number of fragments of glass upto 2 mm. (0.08
inch) long without producing any deleterious effects.
Fatal Period.—Uncertain. A woman, 25 years old, of Mandi State, who
swallowed powdered glass with the intent of committmg suicide, died in 2
hours.2 In a fatal case reported by the Chemical Analyser of Bombay death
occurred in 48 hours ,a and in another case recorded by Reichardt death took
place in 6 days.*
Treattaent-v-Give bulky food, such as a large quantity of rice, and then
give emetics, as well as purgatives. Give ice and morphine to relieve thirst
and pain. Adopt such remedies as will combat collapse,
Post-mortem Appearances.—Erosions may be found in the mouth,
pharynx, oesophagus, stomach and upper part of the small intestine. Frag-
ments of glass may be found adherent to the mucous membrane of the
stomach which is covered »with tenacious mucus. The mucous membran^
of the stomach and intestines is red, congested and streaked with blood^ and
may occasionally be inflamed,
1. Peterson, Haines and Webster, I/egr. Me<L and Toxic., Vol. II, Ed. II, p, 8$9, *
2. Punjab Chemical Examiner's Annual Beport, 1926, p. 2. ;i
3. Collis Barry, Legal Med., Vol. II, p. 589.
4. Arch, d. Pharm., Second Series, Vol. XCI, p. 92; Peterson, Haines and
Leg, Med. and Toxic., Vol. IIf Ed. H, p. 893,