A retrospective study was carried out among children admitted to the Pediatric Clinic, Haukeland Hospital, from 1958 until 1986 for accidental poisoning. Drugs was the most frequent poisoning agent (49%), followed by household agents (22%), different agents (20%) and plants/mushrooms (9%). 89% of the children were under five years of age, 57% were boys. 20% stayed more than one day in the hospital. Very serious poisonings involving admission for more than 14 days were most frequently seen after intake of drugs. The number of admissions was doubled from 1966-70 to 1981-85. Most of the increase referred to poisoning from plants, tobacco and hydrocarbon products. The greatest increase was found for admissions lasting less than two days. Most of the potentially serious poisonings in our study were caused by agents that, by American or British law, it would have been illegal to sell without special child-resistant packaging. It is strongly advised that a similar law be passed in Norway.
Anthropogenic acute chemical exposures have become an important socioeconomic and environmental factor on the national, regional and global level. They present an actual or potential danger to vital activity and health of large population groups and normal operation of the Biosphere and natural components. Hence a problem of prevention and elimination of acute technogenic exposures hazardous for human health has expanded beyond the medical competence and grown to a major environmental issue.
BACKGROUND: The Poisons Information Centre receives many inquiries about acute exposures to chemical products. Our aim was to characterise the frequency and severity of such exposures and to raise awareness of chemicals that rarely cause poisoning, but may lead to serious systemic toxicity even in small amounts. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Data were collected from inquiries to the Poisons Information Centre in the period 2004-2006 and from the Product Register on the use of selected chemicals. RESULTS: In 2004-2006, the Poisons Information Centre received 35,802 inquiries regarding acute exposures to chemicals or chemical products. Most of the exposures (72%) were assessed as non-toxic or involving risk of minor poisoning, while only 7.8% were assessed as involving risk of severe poisoning. The substances most frequently involved were cleaning agents, cosmetics/personal care products and hydrocarbon fuels, whereas risk of severe poisoning is related to alkali and hydrocarbon exposures. Poisonings with hydrofluoric acid and glycols/glycol ethers are rare, but the outcome is often severe. As many as 84% of the hydrofluoric acid exposures and 36% of the ingestions of ethylene glycol by children were assessed as involving risk of moderate or severe poisoning. INTERPRETATION: Exposure to chemicals or chemical products is frequent, but rarely leads to severe poisonings. Data from inquiries to the Poisons Information Centre are representative of the chemical exposure conditions. It is important to have detailed product information readily available to assure correct treatment after exposure incidents.
In Europe, the number of reported sporadic human cases of Salmonella Livingstone infection is low, and outbreaks are rare. We report the largest S. Livingstone outbreak described in the literature having an identified source of infection. In February 2001, an increased incidence of infection caused by S. Livingstone was observed in Norway and Sweden. By July 2001, 44 cases were notified in Norway and 16 in Sweden. The median age was 63 years, and 40 were women. There were three deaths, and 22 patients were hospitalized. Based on standardized questionnaires and retrospective studies of S. Livingstone strains in Norway and Sweden, food items with egg powder were suspected, and S. Livingstone was subsequently recovered from a processed fish product at the retail level. Analysis by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis documented that isolates from the fish product belonged to the same clone as the outbreak strain.