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The Beef Jerky Blues: Methemoglobinemia From Home Cured Meat

Theobald, Jillian L., MD, PhD*; Spoelhof, Rachel, MD; Pallasch, Erin M., PharmD; Mycyk, Mark B., MD§

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000000917
Illustrative Cases

Methemoglobinemia can result from ingestion of nitrite- or nitrate-containing foods. Here, we report a case where an adolescent girl and her father developed clinically significant methemoglobinemia after ingestion of “homemade” beef jerky prepared with sodium nitrate salt purchased at a local grocery store. Both had palpitations, dyspnea, and visible mucosal cyanosis. The daughter had a methemoglobin level of 44.2% and the father's methemoglobin level was 34.2%. Prompt recognition of methemoglobinemia is important for initiating antidotal therapy with methylene blue.

From the *Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI;

Emergency Health Partners, Muskegon, MI;

Illinois Poison Center; and

§Department of Emergency Medicine, Cook County Hospital, Chicago, IL.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Jillian L. Theobald, MD, PhD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, 9200 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53226 (e-mail:

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