Ingestion of mercury can cause immediate effects of tremors, irritability, forgetfulness and fatigue. Inhaled amounts can also cause problems. I would not consider this real sick, but it depends on the dosage ingested. Either way it is important to contact an emergency medical center or poison control center for further instructions.
In high enough levels, mercury can be toxic to humans and lead to a condition known as mercury poisoning, and yes it is a real sickness.
Usually people injest mercury through fish, although other plants and animals can contain it as well. (If you remember, Jeremy Piven missed the premier of his Broadway show because he claimed he got merucry poisoning from bad sushi).
Good question, combs. The answer is yes, you will get really sick. The most common way to get mercury poisoning is actually by consuming fish that are contaminated with mercury. High enough levels of mercury could damage your brain, kidney, and lungs, and could give you pink disease, Hunter-Russell syndrome, and Minamata disease.
Hope this helps!
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