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Lindane poisoning can cause severe illness
Fri Jun 3, 2005 01:59 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Lindane, a lotion used to treat lice, can cause vomiting and seizures if accidentally swallowed, investigators report.

Because of its poisonous nature, they advise in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lindane should only be dispensed in small amounts and it should only be used when first-line treatments haven't worked or are poorly tolerated.

Dr. J. Sievert, with the Texas Department of State Health Services, and associates analyzed 870 reported cases of unintentional lindane ingestion collected from 1998 to 2003.

Symptoms associated with poisoning included nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramping, headache, cough, seizures and confusion. Illness severity was high in 1 to 15 percent of cases and moderate in 8 to 23 percent.

Some cases of poisoning seemed to be caused by mistaking lindane for an oral medicine, because some pharmacies are in the practice of repackaging bottles of bulk lindane into smaller bottles resembling those used for liquid oral medications.

Therefore, "pharmacists should not transfer lindane to other containers and should only dispense lindane in manufacturer-provided 1- or 2-ounce containers," the report authors advise.

The three other FDA-approved treatments for lice -- permethrin, pyrethrin and malathion -- should be tried first, they add. If lindane is used, it should not be repeated and it should be avoided altogether for anyone weighing less than 110 pounds.

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 3, 2005.


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Reuters 2005


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