Minamata disease

Minamata disease is a neurologic condition caused by organic mercury poisoning.

It is usually caused by the ingestion of methylmercury-contaminated seafood 1.

Typical neurological findings in Minamata disease include:

  • sensory disturbances
  • tunnel vision
  • hearing and speech impairments 
  • cerebellar ataxia 1,2

Typically, patients present with:

  • atrophy of the visual and postcentral cortex, as well as of the cerebellar vermis and hemispheres
  • T1 hypointensity and T2 hyperintensity of the visual cortex

In 1953, fishermen and their families from the Minamata Bay area, in Southwestern Japan developed a new unknown ailment. After 3 years the number of cases of this illness had surged and it was called Minamata disease. Toxic concentrations of mercury were identified within the viscera of the deceased patients. It was proved that the affected individuals had consumed large quantities of seafood contaminated from the mercury-laden runoff from a recently built industrial plant 1.

Article information

rID: 81343
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Mercury poisoning
  • Niigata Minamata disease

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