Health officials in the Seattle, Washington area are reporting on two issues: a salmonella outbreak and child poisonings from edible marijuana.

Image/ National Atlas of the United States
Image/ National Atlas of the United States

First, up to 16 people contracted salmonella during a Father’s Day celebration brunch at Seattle’s Tallulah’s restaurant, according to King County health officials.

Nine of the cases have been laboratory confirmed and it is linked to crab and ham eggs Benedict dishes, which typically include a sauce made from raw eggs.

Also in King County is an increase in reports of child poisonings to the Washington Poison Center (WAPC).

According to the WAPC, the number of marijuana edible intoxications reported in King County in 2014 was 73% higher than in 2013, and there is an upward trend in 2015. Children 5 years of age and younger accounted for roughly 30% of all edible marijuana intoxication reports in 2014. Seventy-three percent of children required evaluation at a hospital.

“Edible marijuana poisoning is an emerging health risk to children in our community that demands attention,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Edible marijuana consumers, sellers and health care providers should all take steps to prevent children from getting access to these products.”

Most intoxications among children occur when a child finds marijuana-containing products such as candy, chocolate or baked goods left unattended in the home. In 2014, children under the age of 18 years accounted half of intoxication reports related to chocolate and candy edibles, and more than a quarter of reports related to ingestion of marijuana-containing baked goods.

“The majority of pediatric poisonings occur unintentionally. Marijuana edibles left lying around on the coffee table or next to snacks can easily fall into the hands of young kids,” said Dr. Alexander Garrard, Clinical Managing Director of the Washington Poison Center. “Children should be supervised, and marijuana edibles should be left up high out of reach of kids or locked in cabinets.”

Marijuana intoxication in children can lead to anxiety attacks, psychotic-like symptoms, seizures, and respiratory depression. Although most cases do not require hospital admission or result in serious illness, children often require extensive and costly medical evaluations to rule out other causes of their symptoms.

“Marijuana intoxication in children can be serious, requiring medical evaluation and occasionally, hospitalization,” said Dr. Suzan Mazor, director of toxicology and an emergency room attending physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “We need to prevent kids from getting ahold of edibles and to stop producing edible marijuana in packaging that resembles candy and treats that are attractive to children.”