Sarin poisoning stems from either inhalation or direct contact with sarin, an extremely dangerous neurotoxin that acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. The clinical presentation depends on the severity of exposure, but an immediate appearance of hypothermia, convulsions, hypersecretion of glands, tremors, and weakness is observed. Death may ensue due to respiratory failure and severe airway obstruction. The diagnosis is difficult to attain and is based on clinical criteria and epidemiologic information.
Initially synthesized by humans as a weapon for chemical warfare, sarin (also known as O-isopropyl methylphosphonofluoridate) is a colorless and clear liquid that belongs to a group of highly toxic and life-threatening nerve agents  . Similar to organophosphates, sarin behaves as an inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (Ach); thus it produces symptoms by promoting cholinergic effects at both muscarinic (M) and nicotinic (N) receptors of the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system    . Sarin poisoning has been described in very few reports, mainly during the terrorist attacks in Japan during the 90's   . In addition to direct contact with its liquid form, individuals can inhale sarin as a gas and it is equally potent in both forms . The clinical presentation depends on the route of exposure - dermal absorption may delay first signs for up to 18 hours, with local sweating and glandular hypersecretion, together with weakness and fasciculations being the main symptoms  . On the other hand, instantaneous development of life-threatening symptoms such as airway obstruction, weakness and failure of respiratory muscles leading to anoxia, and convulsions is seen in the case of inhalation  . Additional findings include miosis, hypothermia, muscle twitching, tremors, ataxia, visual deficits, cardiac abnormalities (including cardiac arrest) and coma   .
Entire Body System
- Intravenous Administration
Intravenous administration of atropine sulfate to mildly ill victims was adverse. We believe that it was because eye symptoms were mainly due to local reaction of sarin. [nointervention.com]
In more severe cases, intravenous administration must be used. Diazepam should be administered in repeated i.m. or i.v. doses (10–15 mg or 0.2 mg/kg for children). [academic.oup.com]
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- Abdominal Cramps
Symptoms like bronchoconstriction, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea may also diminish. Atropine will also reduce the parasympathetic overstimulation and the consequent risk of bradyarrhythmias induced by ACh accumulation. [academic.oup.com]
Symptoms include: Dilated pupils Headache Sense of pressure Salivation Runny nose or congestion Nausea Vomiting Tightness in chest Anxiety Mental confusion Nightmares Weakness Tremors or twitches Involuntary defecation or urination Abdominal cramps Diarrhea [thoughtco.com]
Atropine also blocks other effects of poisoning, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, low heart rate, and sweating. Atropine, however, does not prevent or reverse paralysis. [emedicinehealth.com]
Jaw & Teeth
- Foaming at the Mouth
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), victims were having difficulty breathing, foaming at the mouth, seizures, bleeding from the nose and mouth, fainting, and some progressed to losing consciousness and dying. [gcnlive.com]
Excessive acetylcholine corroborates what has been reported and seen in the videos taken just after the attack, including uncontrolled salivation that will cause "foaming at the mouth," vomiting, tearing, involuntary defecation and urination, tiny pinpoint [tonic.vice.com]
“For example, if it’s a secretion in the mouth, it will make the person foam at the mouth,” he said. If it’s tear ducts, it will make you cry. if its muscles in the leg, it will make the muscles twitch.” [pbs.org]
Symptoms included bleeding from the nose and mouth, coma, convulsions, difficulty breathing, extreme sensitivity to light, flulike symptoms, foaming at the mouth, fevers, loss of consciousness, loss of memory, loss of vision, nausea, vomiting, paralysis [wired.com]
Those on the periphery of that zone were the ones being rushed to hospitals, gasping for breath and foaming at the mouth, in the hopes of being saved. [foxnews.com]
- Psychiatric Symptoms
The results suggested delayed effects on psychomotor performance, the higher and visual nervous system and the vestibulo-cerebellar system with psychiatric symptoms resulting from PTSD. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
In addition, the results of stepwise multiple regression analysis in 18 sarin cases revealed that scores for the General Health Questionnaires, fatigue of Profile of Mood States (i.e., fatigue, tension-anxiety, depression, and anger-hostility)-together [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
The news that someone had been killed by the police created a mood of implacable anger in the country. It was 50 years to the day since the German army, entering Prague, had shot dead a student who had demonstrated against them. [romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com]
Except for terrorist attack-related incidents, the diagnosis of sarin poisoning has virtually never been made in general practice. Nevertheless, nerve agents such as sarin must be considered in the differential diagnosis of sudden and life-threatening respiratory and gastrointestinal tract complaints in a cluster of patients who were in the same surroundings shortly before symptoms occurred. For this reason, history taking that reveals many individuals affected by the same symptoms might be crucial in raising suspicion. Physicians must perform a quick physical examination during which cholinergic effects of sarin poisoning must be observed - miosis, sweating, hypothermia, muscle weakness, spasms, etc. In addition, some studies have identified leukocytosis, elevated serum creatine kinase levels, hyperglycemia, hypokalemia, and hypotriglyceridemia in the laboratory workup .
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We examined clinical and laboratory findings of 264 people who sought treatment and the results of health examinations on 155 residents done 3 weeks after the poisoning. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Treatment: Treatment of victims exposed to nerve gas is similar to the treatment of those poisoned by organophosphate insecticides. Atropine sulfate: Victims with symptoms require immediate treatment with atropine. [emedicinehealth.com]
Treatment Termination of the exposure including removing all soiled clothing. Gently cleanse with soap and water to hydrolyze organophosphate solutions. Airway control and adequate oxygenation. [openanesthesia.org]
Even with treatment, there may still be long-term effects for survivors of a nerve gas attack. [cbsnews.com]
Mustards Prognosis Victims with significant respiratory tract burns usually require admission to the hospital’s intensive care unit. [emedicinehealth.com]
This prognosis is based on decades of research on rats and mice, and the fate of veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War who were exposed to low-levels of sarin gas and who continue to suffer serious health effects 26 years later. [blogs.scientificamerican.com]
Once the patient survives for a few hours, the prognosis is equally as good as that of unexposed people. Psychologic complications cannot be disregarded; almost 60% of victims suffered from PTSD that persisted longer than 6 months. [nointervention.com]
The diagnosis is difficult to attain and is based on clinical criteria and epidemiologic information. [symptoma.com]
The epidemiological pattern of occurrence such as the mass influx of patients in a short time suggests exposure to sarin, a nerve agent in Syria’s arsenal. [undispatch.com]
Biden: Syrian gov't responsible for "heinous use" of chem. weapons Syrian state news agency: Kerry lying about chemical weapons attack "The reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events -- characterized by [cbsnews.com]
Jernigan, Daniel B., et al., and the National Anthrax Epidemiologic Investigation Team, Oct. 2002, "Investigation of bioterrorism-related anthrax, United States, 2001: Epidemiologic findings," Emerging Infectious Diseases, 8:1019-1028. [johnstonsarchive.net]
A chart of signs and symptoms is available from the North Carolina Statewide Program for Infection Control and Epidemiology. [emedicinehealth.com]
This review summarizes the biochemistry and pathophysiology of anticholinesterase poisoning, the relevant clinical manifestations and the currently available therapeutic strategies. [academic.oup.com]
Preventing Sarin Poisoning An option pursued by chemists and medical professionals is a vaccine–an approach is to release scavenger molecules into the blood stream. [decodedscience.org]
CONCLUSIONS: Rescuers should protect themselves with appropriate clothing, gloves, and a mask to prevent a secondary disaster for at least 24 hours after a similar accident. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
However, do not administer antidotes preventatively; there is no benefit to doing so. [emedicine.medscape.com]
Diazapam can also be used to prevent seizures and convulsions. [encyclopedia.com]
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