March 1958

Acute Poisoning with Oil of Wintergreen Treated by Exchange Transfusion

Author Affiliations

From St. Francis Hospital, Blue Island, Ill., and the Department of Pediatrics, Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola University, Chicago.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1958;95(3):309-310. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1958.02060050311014

In 1832 six enterprising soldiers sweetened their tea with oil of wintergreen to become the principals in the first case report on methyl salicylate poisoning.1 The history of recurrent poisoning with methyl salicylate since that time has been the result of the average family's inability to comprehend the toxic potential of this drug. Lucrezia Borgia might well have conceived the cruel trick of disguising one of the most lethal of household poisons with a sweet, candy-like aroma especially enticing to children. It is amazing to consider that a liquid so noxious that a single teaspoonful has been reported fatal to two adults and three infants2-6 has been used with such careless abandon. It has been used by college boys in the roaring twenties to spike ginger ale,2 swigged by topers looking for something stronger than blended bourbon,7 and swallowed by countless children in the belief that

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