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[mass noun] Poisoning produced by eating food affected by ergot, typically resulting in headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, and gangrene of the fingers and toes.
- ‘One of the main illnesses treated at the hospital was ergotism (called ‘St. Anthony's Fire ’), a disease caused by ergot, a fungus that grows especially on rye.’
- ‘But at the time, no scientist had connected those black seed grains with ergotism.’
- ‘The use of ergot alkaloids is generally not advised during lactation, but this recommendation is based on a report of ergotism in an infant in a 1934 study and has not been confirmed by more recent detailed studies.’
- ‘When 40,000 people died of ergotism (caused by a toxic mould on wheat) in southern France in AD944, nobody would have described it as a ‘food scare’.’
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