Several teenagers in Eastern Ontario were hospitalized last week after eating a poisonous weed that's commonly grown around here. Now health officials are warning students about the possible health risks, including death. Its common name is Jimson Weed or Devil's Seed.  It is a plant that grows wild here that causes hallucinations when you ingest the seeds. That's what happened to several high school students in the Prescott-Russell area. They were taken to hospital, according to Ontario Provincial Police, who then notified the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.  Dr. Paul Roumeliotis is the Medical Officer of Health for Eastern Ontario.  In a telephone interview, he told CTV Ottawa that this is not first time a poisoning of this nature has occurred involving Jimson Weed.  

“This happened seven years ago,” says Dr. Roumeliotis, “when 15 kids were hospitalized using this weed.  Kids think it's a natural high. Unfortunately it can cause problems with the heart, kidneys and lead to coma and convulsion.”

“Just because it’s naturally occurring,” stresses Dr. Roumeliotis, “doesn’t mean it is safe.”

The plant has pointed green leaves and produces trumpet-shaped white or purple flowers with a prickly pod that's filled with seeds.  All parts of the plant are poisonous.  Jimson Weed attacks the central nervous system quickly.  Within half an hour to an hour of eating it, people may experience a fever, racing heart and hallucinations.  In more severe cases, it can cause seizures, coma and even death. The Health Unit has come forward to ensure parents and hospitals are aware of what to look for.

“Just to let hospitals know that if kids come in (with these symptoms),” says Dr. Roumeliiotis, “to think of this product and to warn parents that this is something that kids are toying or experimenting with.”

The Health Unit urging parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of this to prevent any further victims.