Herbicide poisoning cases on the rise at premier Vietnam hospital

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A Paraquat victim being treated at Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital January 1. Photo by Nam Son

Hanoi's leading public hospital, Bach Mai, has been receiving many patients poisoned by herbicides, pesticides, and rodenticides in recent months.

A large number are poisoned by a popular herbicide called Paraquat.

The hospital's Dr Nguyen Tien Dung said 40-45 victims of Paraquat have been admitted every month for several months, mostly from the north.

The herbicide is quick-acting and non-selective, killing green plant tissue on contact.

It is deadly to people and animals, causing a fatality rate of 90-95 percent.  

Dung said patients can only be saved if poisoned by small doses of up to three milliliters.

But the treatment is expensive, requiring three to five blood filtration sessions costing VND12 million (US$570) each, and the chance of survival low, he said.

"[It] usually causes mouth and throat ulcers. When it comes into contact with the skin, it can destroy tissue."

Research also links Paraquat to the development of Parkinson's disease.

The hospital also receives an increasing number of victims of anticoagulants used in many rodenticides sold in the market.

Dung said patients are brought with various conditions depending on the severity of the poisoning, including paleness, bleeding gums, internal bleeding, and even brain hemorrhage.

Worryingly, the anticoagulants used these days are extremely virulent and effective for as long as 120 days instead of 30-72 hours as in the past, and patients can die of bleeding without treatment.

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