Erowid References Database
“L'affaire du pain maudit: empoisonnement dû à l'ergot?”.
Dates back to 1951 the so called “Affair du pain maudit”. In that year, in Pont Saint-Esprit, a little village in the Southern France, more than three hundred persons showed an abnormal behaviour, characterized by violent hysteria, visual and sensory hallucinations and motor hyperactivity. It has been suggested that at the origin of this syndrome, that led also to some deaths, was the use of bread infected by ergot. People showing these symptoms, in fact, had all eaten bread of the same origin, that is, obtained by meal containing some ergot alkaloids. Poisoning by methyl mercury, a fungicidal agent utilized for disinfecting cereals has also been suggested as another
possible cause of the observed syndrome. In 1982, thirty years later, it has been also hypothesized the presence, in the infected bread, of Aspergillus fumigatus, a mold infecting food. However, so far, it must be considered that the origin of the phenomena associated with the “pain maudit” has not been completely cleared up.
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