Those pesky berries ... are they a source of concern?Vet Hum Toxicol. 1998 Apr; 40(2):101-3.VH
Plant exposures constitute the 4th most common call to poison information centers. Within the plant category, exposures to unidentified berries are common and often create panic in the public and indecisiveness by health professionals. Are exposures to unidentified berries associated with morbidity and mortality? Can these berry exposures be managed at home or do they necessitate medical evaluation? The AAPCC Toxic Exposure Surveillance System was queried to identify exposures with the "unidentified berry" code for a 10-y period. Data parameters included frequency, age, outcome, patient disposition, referral pattern, symptom progression and therapeutic intervention. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Unidentified berry exposures included 11,237 incidents, making it the 11th most common plant-related exposure. Children < 6 y-of-age accounted for 88.5% of the exposures, and 88.5% occurred during June-October. There were no fatalities, and morbidity included 1 major outcome in an infant and 26 exposures with moderate outcomes. In exposures with a known outcome, no effects (86.0%) and minor effects (13.6%) accounted for 99.6% of exposures. When a patient was initially asymptomatic, 89.7% did not develop symptoms and 10.2% progressed to have minor symptoms, accounting for 99.9% of all exposures. Poison centers referred 7.5% to a health care facility. There was no apparent benefit conferred by decontamination therapy. Exposures to unidentified berries represent common inquiries to poison information centers. They are associated with low morbidity and no mortality. If no initial symptoms are present, it is unlikely that the patient will develop clinically relevant effects.