Author(s): Tagwireyi D, Ball DE, Nhachi CF, Tagwireyi D, Ball DE, Nhachi CF
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Abstract A retrospective study of the pattern of poisoning cases admitted to eight major urban referral hospitals in Zimbabwe over a 2-year period (1998-1999 inclusive) was conducted to describe the pattern of poisoning at these centres. There were a total of 2764 hospital admissions due to poisoning, involving a total of 2846 toxic agents. Accidental poisoning (AP) and deliberate self-poisoning (DSP) accounted for 48.9\% (1352 cases) and 41.3\% (1142 cases), respectively. With AP, the highest number of cases (45.9\%) occurred in children below the age of 5 years, with half of these due to chemicals, mainly paraffin. In the DSP group, however, more than 60\% of all cases occurred in the 16-25-year age group. In addition, twice as many females as males were admitted for DSP compared with an overall male/female ratio of 1 : 1.2. Pesticides (31.4\%) and pharmaceuticals (30.4\%) were the most common groups of toxic agents responsible for the hospital admissions. Unknown toxins, natural toxins and pesticides showed the highest mortality rates (15.4\%, 8.3\% and 6.7\%, respectively). Compared with the last major survey of poisoning in Zimbabwe, the pattern of poisoning at referral hospitals has changed over the last decade, with an increase in pesticide and pharmaceutical cases and a marked fall in cases of traditional medicine poisoning. Educational and legislative interventions may be required to address these changes. There is the need also to investigate further the high mortality rates associated with traditional medicine poisoning. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in J Appl Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research