[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We wish to report the first curative use of digoxin-specific Fab antibody fragments in a coconut crab Birgus latro L. poisoning in New Caledonia. The female patient, aged sixty-three with a previous history of cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions, showed marked first-degree atrio-ventricular block and several atrial pauses, and was given 760 mg of digoxin-specific Fab antibody fragments. Shortly after the perfusion her electrocardiogram returned to close to normal with only slight first-degree atrio-ventricular block and no more atrial pauses. Neriifolin LC-MS/MS tests performed on the patient's serum and urine samples confirmed cardenolide poisoning. Another, younger patient, with high neriifolin levels in her serum and urine samples only experienced gastro-intestinal symptoms and was discharged without specific treatment. The consumption of coconut crab in New Caledonia should be avoided even though the first of the two cases reported suggests that digoxin-specific Fab antibody fragments can be effective in the treatment of life-threatening poisoning caused by the ingestion of this crustacean.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report a double lethal coconut crab Birgus latro L. poisoning in New Caledonia. Both patients died after showing gastro-intestinal symptoms, major bradycardia with marked low blood pressure, and finally asystolia. Both had significative hyperkaliemia, suggesting a digitaline-like substance intoxication. Traditional knowledge in the Loyalty Islands relates coconut crab toxicity to the consumption of the Cerbera manghas fruit by the crustacean. Elsewhere previous descriptions of human poisoning with the kernel of fruits of trees belonging to the genus Cerbera, known to contain cardiotoxic cardenolides, appear to be very similar to our cases. Cardenolides assays were performed on patient's serum samples, fruit kernel and on the crustacean guts, which lead us to suppose these two fatal cases were the result of a neriifolin intoxication, this toxin having been transmitted through the coconut crab.