Toxic oil syndrome

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Toxic oil syndrome is a rare syndrome first reported in Spain In 1981.

History[edit | edit source]

A 7-year-old Spanish boy died within hours of presented in Spain with an unusual rash and respiratory distress.

Cluster of cases[edit | edit source]

Within a week, over 500 more cases were reported in Spain.

Symptoms[edit | edit source]

Patients had intense muscle pains, called myalgia, and very high numbers of a specific type of white blood cell, called eosinophilia. In total, over 20,000 cases occurred, and well over 300 people died.

New Mexico USA[edit | edit source]

In 1989, an astute physician from New Mexico reported a cluster of similar symptoms, including debilitating muscle pain, rashes, and dramatic eosinophilia. Subsequently, CDC's national surveillance data determined that over 1,500 Americans had eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome, and 36 deaths were reported.

Cause[edit | edit source]

Through extensive collaborations and investigation, the causes of these similar outbreaks were traced back to a contaminated oil in Spain, and contaminated food supplements containing amino acid L-tryptophan in the United States.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD