Meridian Star

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August 3, 2013

Doctors: Plant likely culprit of rare disease

NEW ORLEANS —

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Doctors don't know why eating crawfish or buffalo fish sometimes causes the rare muscle-destroying illness that recently sickened three members of a Mississippi family. But they believe Haff disease is caused by eating bottom-feeders that have eaten the roots of a plant called water hemlock.

The three people who became ill in July after eating buffalo fish were Mississippi's first cases. But Haff disease has been seen at least twice in Louisiana since 2000. And in 1997, seven people diagnosed with it in other states apparently ate buffalo fish caught in Louisiana and Missouri.

No U.S. case has been fatal. Symptoms include muscle weakness and pain, dry mouth, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and dark urine. They generally appear within 12 hours of eating buffalo fish or crawfish.

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