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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
May 28, 2003

Poisoning by an Illegally Imported Chinese Rodenticide Containing Tetramethylenedisulfotetramine—New York City, 2002

JAMA. 2003;289(20):2640-2642. doi:10.1001/jama.289.20.2640

MMWR. 2003;52:199-201

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Illegally imported foreign products can result in domestic exposures to unusual toxic chemicals, and health-care providers might not be able to provide appropriate therapy because the chemical ingredients might not be listed or recognized even after translation of the product label. This report describes the first known case in the United States of exposure to a Chinese rodenticide containing the toxin tetramethylenedisulfotetramine (TETS), a convulsant poison. The report of this investigation highlights the need to prevent such poisonings through increased public education, awareness, and enforcement of laws banning the importation of illegal toxic chemicals.

On May 15, 2002, a previously healthy female infant aged 15 months living with her family in New York City was found by her parents to be playing with a white rodenticide powder that they had brought from China and applied in the corner of their kitchen. After 15 minutes, the child had generalized seizures and was taken to an emergency department. Her initial blood glucose level was 108 mg/dL (normal range: 80-120 mg/dL). Despite aggressive therapy with lorazepam, phenobarbital, and pyridoxine, she had intermittent generalized seizure activity for 4 hours and required intubation.