On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.100 n.7 Cape Town Jul. 2010
Mercury exposure in a low-income community in South Africa
To the Editor: I read the recent article on mercury exposure with a great interest.1 Oosthuizen et al. concluded that 'As primary health facilities will be the first point of entry for individuals experiencing symptoms of mercury poisoning, South African primary health care workers need to take cognisance of mercury exposure as a possible cause of neurological symptoms in patients.'1
I would like to contribute some thoughts on the subject. Firstly, not only recognition of the problem but also close surveillance is required. Indeed, the problem can be expected, based on the nature of the factory. If it holds risk of mercury exposure, monitoring the environment as well as workers and the nearby population is recommended. These issues continue to be problems in actual practice in developing, poor countries in Africa and Asia. Secondly, there are many other toxic substance that can cause neurological symptoms. The complete differential diagnosis of other possible causes of intoxication and further medical disorders is still important for the primary health care worker confronted by such cases.
1. Oosthuizen MA, John J, Somerset V. Mercury exposure in a low-income community in South Africa. S Afr Med J 2010; 100(6): 366-371. [ Links ]