Multiple poisonings with sodium azide at a local restaurant

Evan S. Schwarz, Paul M. Wax, Kurt C. Kleinschmidt, Kapil Sharma, Wendy M. Chung, Gabriela Cantu, Erin Spargo, Elizabeth Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Sodium azide is a chemical with a mechanism similar to cyanide. There is concern that it could be used as a chemical warfare agent. Objectives We report a cluster of poisonings that occurred at a public restaurant and the subsequent investigation that identified iced tea contaminated with sodium azide (NaN3) and hydrazoic acid, as the foodborne vehicle and agents, respectively. Case Report Five patients became ill within minutes of drinking iced tea at a restaurant. They all presented to the same Emergency Department with similar symptoms, and improved with fluids, antiemetics, and supportive care. A joint investigation by the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services, the Texas State Health Department, the Dallas County Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, and the medical toxicologists at the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine identified iced tea, contaminated with sodium azide (NaN3) and hydrazoic acid, as the foodborne vehicle and agents, respectively. Conclusion The recurrence, and seriousness, of these events suggests a need for continued education of emergency providers. Emergency physicians should consider exposures to toxic chemicals in their differential when a cluster of patients presents with similar symptoms over a short period of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-494
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • hydrazoic acid
  • metabolic inhibitors
  • poisoning
  • sodium azide
  • terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this