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toxic oil syndrome

n. An unusual disease that broke out in Spain in 1981, resembling a lung infection but unaffected by antibiotics, caused by the consumption of imported rapeseed oil, intended for industrial use, that had been sold as olive oil.

Toxic oil syndrome

Toxic oil syndrome or simply toxic syndrome ( Spanish: síndrome del aceite tóxico or síndrome tóxico) is a musculoskeletal disease most famous for a 1981 outbreak in Spain which killed over 600 people and was likely caused by contaminated colza oil. Its first appearance was as a lung disease, with unusual features: though the symptoms initially resembled a lung infection, antibiotics were ineffective. The disease appeared to be restricted to certain geographical localities, and several members of a family could be affected, even while their neighbours had no symptoms. Following the acute phase, a range of other chronic symptoms was apparent.