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Girl drinks herself to death in ‘water poker’

A 12-year-old girl died due to brain complications caused by the consumption of too much water in a game of "water poker" she played with classmates.

Girl drinks herself to death in 'water poker'

The girl had drunk six litres of water in the game, and was pronounced dead in her home town after being declared brain dead in Sweden following the incident.

The school children played the game on the Åland islands located between Sweden and Finland, with the rules being that the loser of each hand on poker had to down a whole glass of water.

The girl’s water intoxication was not noticed by teachers until they were making a head count of the students later in the evening.

“She sat on the toilet and vomited. She had drunk an enormous amount of water,” said Jukka Silvola, principal of the school, to the Aftonbladet newspaper, adding that the girl was “truly well-liked”.

The 12-year-old was immediately taken to a hospital in Åland capital of Mariehamn before being transferred to specialist ward of the Uppsala University Hospital the next morning.

There, the girl was declared brain dead and was taken to her hometown of Nystad in eastern Finland in May, where she died a few days later.

Johan Valtysson, head of the intensive care ward at the Uppsala hospital, explained how water intoxication can lead to fatal disturbances in brain functions.

“What happens when you drink too much water is that your blood is diluted and salt levels in the blood are increased,” he told the paper.

“The effect is that the water is drawn into the brain which then swells up due to the brain’s fluid accumulation. The blood flow is then cut off and you become brain dead.”

An adult should drink around two to three litres of water a day, and the 12-year-old is believed to have consumed six.

Meanwhile, Valtysson told the paper that he can’t fathom why anyone would play “water poker”.

“This is a truly dangerous game,” he said.

TT/The Local/og

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WATER

Algal bloom a problem for drinking water in Sweden

Clean drinking water may become more difficult to guarantee after a bloom in algae this summer.

Algal bloom a problem for drinking water in Sweden
Photo: Kustbevakningen/TT

Toxic blue-green algae, which thrive at higher temperatures, have created problems at waterworks in Sweden, with water purifiers at risk of failing to filter out toxic substances where there are large accumulations of cyanobacteria, P4 Östergötland reports.

Around half of all drinking water in Sweden is sourced from rivers and lakes, according to the National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket). Municipal treatment works that extract water from these bodies are in need of better equipment to effectively filter toxic algae and analyse samples, according to the report.

“If the algae bloom is very large, waterworks may not be able to filter out all of the toxic substances, which may then end up in drinking water,” National Food Administration chemist Caroline Dirks told P4.

Dirks stressed that levels of toxic substances in drinking water related to the algae have not exceeded permitted safety limits, despite the challenges currently faced by filtration equipment.

Climate change will cause the problem to become more serious in future, Dirks added.

“We have also seen this in other countries, that the problem is getting worse, and that is related to climate change,” she told P4.

Drinking water containing excessive amounts of cyanobacteria can cause can cause stomach problems and liver damage, according to the National Food Administration.

READ ALSO: The impact of Sweden's summer heatwave is visible from space

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