A fatal case of mercuric cyanide poisoning.


A 57-year-old pharmacist was found dead 11 days after his disappearance. At the autopsy, samples of blood, urine, gastric content were obtained. Presence of ethanol, cyanide and mercury were detected in some samples. Cyanide and mercury were identified and quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography with diode array detector (HPLC) in fluorescence mode and ICP with mass selective detector (ICP-MS) respectively. Whole blood concentrations of ethanol was 1.72 g/L. Cyanide and mercury concentrations in whole blood were respectively 0.16 and 3.8 mg/L. Concentrations of cyanide (27 mg/L) and mercury (150 mg/L) in gastric contents prove a massive oral ingestion of mercuric cyanide or mercuric oxycyanide occurred. In this case report, the death was attributed to the combined toxicity of cyanide and mercury.

Cite this paper

@article{Labat2004AFC, title={A fatal case of mercuric cyanide poisoning.}, author={Laurence Labat and V{\'e}ronique Dumestre-Toulet and J P Goull{\'e} and Michel Lhermitte}, journal={Forensic science international}, year={2004}, volume={143 2-3}, pages={215-7} }