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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2010 May-Jun;25(3):219-22.

Single-Breath-Count Test: an important adjunct in the triaging of patients in a mass-casualty incident due to botulism.

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College of Medicine, Department of Public Health, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA.


Clostridium botulinum toxins, the most poisonous substance known to humankind, are considered to be a [US] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category A bioterrorist agent. Despite this concern, little has been published with regard to the tactical aspects of triaging a mass-casualty event involving botulism victims arriving at an emergency department. Because neuromuscular-ventilatory failure is a principal reason for botulism's early morbidity and mortality, using a quick and sensitive test to evaluate this possibility is imperative. The purpose of this article is to propose the adoption of the Single-Breath-Count Test (SBCT). The ease and validity of the use of the SBCT in evaluating complications associated with various neuromuscular disorders make it an attractive adjunct for triage during a mass-casualty incident due to botulism. While education, immune globulin, antitoxin, and invasive airway techniques are well-recognized steps in treating botulism, incorporating a time-honored technique such as the SBCT, will be an important addition to the triage process.

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