Epidemiology of chemical poisoning: A case of the University Teaching Hospital and Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital, Lusaka(January to December 2012)

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Z'gambo, Jessy R.
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Introduction:Chemical poisoning has been identified as a significant global public health problem resulting in over 350, 000 deaths due to unintentional poisoning. Each year nearly a million people die as a result of suicide, and chemicals account for a significant number of these deaths. Although data on the occurrence of poisoning on a global scale may seem to be well established, updated data from developing countries like Zambia is largely unexplored. Methods:Data on poisoning was retrospectively collected from two referral hospitals in Lusaka from 1st January to 31st December, 2012. A pretested data collection form was used to collect demographic and epidemiologic data surrounding cases including toxic agents used, route of exposure to toxic agent, circumstance (deliberate/accidental) and outcome (recovery/death) of poisoning. All analysis was done using STATA version 13. Results:A total of 1, 031 poisoning cases were reviewed resulting in a prevalence of 1.1 per 100 admissions. Of the cases reviewed men (n=592, 57%) dominated females (n=439, 43%). Deliberate poisoning was common among those aged between 20-30 years (n=231, 52%) while accidental poisoning (n=292, 64%) characterised most of the cases aged between 0-12 years (P-value <0.001). There were a total of 27 deaths representing a 2.6 per 100 case mortality rate. Pesticides (n=187, 18%), alcohol (n=158, 15%) and pharmaceuticals (n=123, 12%) were associated with a larger proportion of poisoning cases. The majority (n=682, 66%) of cases reported were from peri urban residences of Lusaka District. Conclusion:The prevalence of chemical poisoning established in this study was lower than that found in the African region while the mortality was higher than that observed elsewhere. Common toxic agents involved in poisoning were pesticides, alcohol and pharmaceuticals, these also had higher case fatality rates. The significant predictors of deliberate/accidental poisoning were age, route of exposure and toxic agent used while those of recovery/death were sex, age and toxic agent used (more so for pesticides).
Chemical Poisoning