The Worst Cases of Mass Poisoning Throughout History
Worst case of poisoning in the world because it resulted in the death of up to thousands of people
Beer Poisoning with British Arsenic in 1900
In the second half of 1900, a bizarre poisoning case affected northwest England, particularly Manchester, Liverpool, and Salford. Doctors in the area didn’t initially notice something was "off," even though many men and women started seeking help for related symptoms.
This mass poisoning is unusual in that it was not noticed for four months. The doctors, seeing patients who were usually heavy drinkers and who showed muscle weakness and numbness of the hands or feet, initially thought that the patients had "alcoholic neuritis".
Nevertheless, a marked increase in the number of cases was noted, with 41 people succumbing to peripheral neuritis, multiple neuritis or alcoholic neuritis and 66 people perishing from alcoholism in the four months of the outbreak, while the previous seven months revealed only 22.
These cases of neuritis were eventually connected to cases of skin discolouration previously thought to be unrelated.
Ernest Reynolds, the doctor responsible for making the connection, also noted that only one substance would cause these symptoms: arsenic. He also noted that heavy drinkers who drank mainly spirits seemed less affected than beer drinkers. He gathered samples for analysis from the taverns frequented by his patients, which confirmed the presence of arsenic in the beer they consumed.
By the time it was under control, more than 6,000 people were poisoned and 70 died. However, experts estimate the actual death toll was much higher. Before arsenic was discovered, many patients were likely diagnosed with something else, and their deaths were attributed to alcoholism or liver issues.
Poisoning of Japanese Morinaga Powdered Milk , 1955
In late July of 1955, parents in western Japan began taking their babies to the hospital. The children, for no reason that the parents could understand, suddenly began vomiting and having diarrhea – a dangerous condition for young…