Teens Critical After Eating Weeds - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Teens Critical After Eating Weeds

LIMA, Ohio (AP) -- Four teenagers ate a toxic hallucinogenic weed and were in critical condition Friday, with two on life support, authorities said. The four Shawnee High School students, ages 17 and 18, consumed jimson weed seeds late Thursday night, said Shawnee Township police Chief Richard Kohli.

The boys were hospitalized with fast heart beats and impaired vision after their families noticed they felt ill and were confused, said Dr. Eric Kirschner of St. Rita's Medical Center. The teens should not have permanent health problems, he said. ``Their parent are very upset. I think the kids will do OK,'' he said.

Kirschner and police were not sure where the teens found the poisonous, flowering weed, commonly found in farm fields. One teen who vomited had eaten ``dozens and dozens'' of seeds, the plant's most toxic part, Kirschner said. People also smoke the plant's leaves.

The two teens on machines to help them breathe were sedated to prevent them from injuring themselves because of hallucinations the weed causes, Kirschner said. The other two were extremely confused, but all of them should stop hallucinating within 24 to 48 hours from the time they ate the seeds, he said. ``There is no safe amount of this,'' Kirschner said.  The hospital has never had a case of jimson weed poisoning, he said. ``If that was my kid, that would scare me. They're in really bad shape,'' Kohli said.

In 2001, 1,144 cases of jimson weed poisoning were reported in the United States, resulting in one death, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In 2002, there were 1,072 poisonings, including one death, from jimson weed and similar plants, reported the federal Centers for Disease Control.

In October through November 2002, 14 teenagers from the Cleveland-Akron area were poisoned by moonflower, a close relative of jimson weed, the CDC said. The report said they ate seeds or drank tea brewed from the seeds.

Posted 6:55pm, Friday, September 26, 2003