A family of four developed toxic blood levels of mercury after the mother vacuumed a spilled jar of liquid mercury from a closet in their apartment. The youngest son developed severe thrombocytopenia which was initially diagnosed as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura secondary to viral illness. A possible association between acute mercury toxicity and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura has not been previously reported. Chelation therapy with penicillamine for the older child was administered soon after toxic blood mercury levels were known by the physician. Because thrombocytopenia has been reported to occur in up to 5% of patients receiving penicillamine therapy, the younger child was treated with dimercaptosuccinic acid. The mother was also treated with dimercaptosuccinic acid. The father received dimercaprol therapy. The toxic effects and rationale for now outdated therapeutic uses of mercury are discussed.
- heavy metal toxicity
- idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
- Mercury poisoning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine