The dust hasn’t settled yet after we discussed the proper storage of veterinary medicine 2weeks ago in the Village Vet. Now a tragic story has emerged from Okakarara where people were poisoned with Deadline® pour on.
Apparently the owner was given a bit of Deadline from a neighbor and stored it in an empty cooking oil container until he goes to the village to treat his animals over the weekend. Unfortunately, he left this container in the kitchen and unknowingly, the kids used the deadline for cooking thinking it was cooking oil. Imagine that.
They made a cook dish of rice, meat and vegetables with the perceived “cooking oil” and the family and friends set for the meal. Unfortunately they all got poisoned (10 people in total) and were sick and spend a few days in hospital for treatment before they recovered.
But what is Deadline? One might ask, Deadline is a veterinary drug containing flumethrin that is used to control ticks, mites, lice and tsetse flies in cattle, sheep, goats, ostriches and game. It is oily, slightly yellowish and if it is especially stored in a cooking oil container can be easily confused with cooking oil. The smell is not that distinct or offensive for someone to differentiate from cooking oil. Deadline is applied directly on the skin of animals at 1ml/kg. It is not even recommended to be taken by mouth/orally in animals, therefore swallowed by people the effect is detrimental, especially if no immediate medical care is provided.
This drug comes with quite a lot of warnings from the manufacturers, including; keep out of the reach of children or uninformed people and animals. The drug should also be stored in a safe place, away from food and feed. And this warning was probably written with animals in mind so that they don’t get to consume this product. So you can comprehend the danger it would cause if consumed by people. My opinion is that the Okakarara people were probably lucky that the drug was used in cooking which might have rendered it a bit tolerable instead of consuming the raw product directly.
Most importantly, if swallowed we are advised to seek medical treatment promptly. Fortunately, the people in Okakarara managed to get medical help timely; otherwise the situation might have been worse. (We realize that desperate times call for desperate measures as I was consulted on the Deadline poisonings by Okakarara community to give advice.
My humble contribution remain to be giving advice on storage of veterinary medicine(drugs) and proper labeling on the containers. My heart goes out to the families of those unfortunate community members who were affected by this regrettable ordeal. Another warning is that the drug should be used only as directed and should be shaken well before use. Meaning no overdose or under dose and strict adherence to the route of administration. Skin reactions may also occur if people are exposed to too much content of the drug.
With all these warnings with regard to the use of Deadline and other veterinary medicine, it is important to recognize important symptoms of drug poisonings so that people can react fast to seek medical treatment. The most frequent symptoms include; exhaustion, weakness, nausea, drooling of saliva, uncoordinated movements, uncoordinated trembling or shaking movements, hyperactivity (exaggerated reaction to stimuli), skin sensation of tingling, tickling, prickling, vomit and diarrhea.
Since we are talking about the management of veterinary drug poisoning in people, let’s give a bit of advice in cases our animals also get poisoned. Just like for most veterinary drugs, there is no antidote for flumethrin poisoning. But, if animals get poisoned with Deadline and other common veterinary drugs, it is better to consult a veterinarian to give supportive and symptomatic measures. But if you are out there in the villages or farms, these are the practical actions to be taken; after accidental ingestion administer activated charcoal (2g/kg), and laxatives like magnesium sulphate or sodium sulphate (0.5 mg/kg in a 10% aqueous solution).
Prevent further exposure to the drug. In case of strong vomit and/or diarrhea rehydration measures should be considered such as giving a liter of water with 3 table spoon of salt and half a cup of sugar. In case the skin is affected, rinse the skin with abundant water and soft detergents. Calcium gluconate and vitamins of the B complex or metabolics can be used to protect the liver.
Finally, the moral of telling the Okakarara Deadline poisoning in people is that farmers need to be vigilant in the proper storage of veterinary medicine in order to avoid the hazard it presents to people and animals. Its very dangerous to leave drugs unattended or if they are stored in inappropriate household containers that are accessible to uninformed people or children.