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Ptomaine poisoning (or food poisoning) is the poisoning from bacteria found in food.

Scientific history[]

In 1883, the Italian, Professor Salmi, of Bologna, introduced the generic name ptomaine (from Greek ptōma, "fall, fallen body, corpse") for alkaloids found in decaying animal and vegetable matter. While The Lancet stated, "The chemical ferments produced in the system, the... ptomaines which may exercise so disastrous an influence." It is now known that the "disastrous... influence" is due to the direct action of bacteria and only slightly to the alkaloids. Thus, the use of the phrase "ptomaine poisoning" is now obsolete.[1]

Symptoms of ptomaine poisoning can resemble that of atropine poisoning.

In the works by Agatha Christie[]

Agatha Christie used ptomaine poisoning as a possible, accidental, cause of death in several stories. Often it turned out that the victims had been deliberately poisoned by someone.

Characters initially believed to have suffered ptomaine poisoning[]