Doctors thought she was on drugs. Jo Wollacott, a mother of two from the United Kingdom, had been having hallucinations, hives, and vomiting.
All of her signs pointed to drugs, but her blood tests came back negative. For an entire year, doctors could find no cause.
“I was also in hospital for a few days with hallucinations — I did not know what was going on. Doctors could not work out what was wrong with me. They did not know what medication to put me on,” Jo told SWNS.
The illness ravaged her life. Her relationship with her boyfriend fell apart, she could no longer work and had to sell her home. It was only when Jo took off a bracelet she had bought right around the time she got sick that her symptoms started to fade.
A few weeks later, Jo’s son came home from school with a letter. The letter warned parents about jequirity bean bracelets and their toxic effects. It was the same kind of bracelet she’d ordered online and begun to wear when her symptoms started.
“The letter had a picture of my bracelet on. When I got the warning letter, I came home and got the bracelet and realized how long I’d been wearing it for,” Jo says. “I couldn’t believe it. When I found out hallucinations were part of the side effects of the bead poisoning, I started to piece things together.”
Jequirity seed beads, or “love beads,” are known for their black and red coloring. While the beads may look pretty, they are derived from the deadly seed of the Peruvian plant abrus precatorious. The seed contains the toxin abrin, which can kill in doses as small as 3 micrograms. Similar to ricin, abrin is banned under the Terrorism Act, since it can be used in chemical warfare.
If you see a bracelet like this, take if off, bag it, and dispose of it. As a precaution, owners should wash their hands and avoid touching the eye area.
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