Ergotism

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The symptoms described in this case such as headaches, skin irritation, painful cramps and seizures are all common in a disease known as Ergotism. Ergotism is caused by the ingestion of alkaloids (ergotamines) produced by the fungus Claviceps purpurea (C. purpurea), which infects mainly Secale cereal (rye) and other cereals. This results in ergot poisoning (Alderman et al., 1999). All species of Claviceps are given the general term ergot and the majority of Claviceps species are restricted to only one or several grass genera. The exception is common ergot caused by C. purpurea, which contains a host range beyond 200 species of grasses (Alderman et al., 1999). C. purpurea, unlike other Claviceps species is distributed throughout the world and can survive in different temperature climates (including a colder places such as Southern England), further suggesting it is the most likely causative agent. Ergotism can be divided into two groups of symptoms, convulsive and gangrenous. Convulsive ergotism is usually characterized by nervous dysfunction such as wry neck, which was reported in the past as convulsions. The fact that many people died from gangrene clearly suggests that the ergotism suffered is not convulsive, as symptoms of gangrene were not present. Gangrene develops when the supply of blood is cut off to the affected part (ischemia) due to infection, trauma or vascular disease with the most common sites being the fingers, toes and hands. This further suggests that the condition is gangrenous ergotism, this can be supported by physical examination of the patient and blood tests. A CT scan or MRI can help to find out the amount of gas present and the extent to which tissues are damaged, however these tests were obviously n... ... middle of paper ... ...illion of these occurring in children younger than 5 years (Epidemiological Record, 2007). In patients in developing countries such as Cameroons, invasive pneumococcal pneumonia has a high mortality rate (WHOInt, 2003). In terms of treatment and prophylaxis, appropriate antibiotics can help to treat S. pneumoniae infections via outpatient treatment. Prior to antibiotic therapy, steroids can be given in children older than 6 weeks suffering with possible pneumococcal meningitis and should be given before or at the time of the first dose of antibiotics (Pickering et al,.2009). The use of penicillin, ceftriaxone or ampicillin sulbactam is usually appropriate with hospitalized children, therapy should account for local resistance patterns. Immunocompromised children suspected of pneumococcal pneumonia should take vancomycin and a broad spectrum cephalosporin.
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