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Lancet. 1978 Jan 7;1(8054):31-4.

Epidemic malathion poisoning in Pakistan malaria workers.


In 1976, epidemic organophosphate insecticide poisoning due to malathion occurred among 7500 field workers in the Pakistan malaria control programme. In July, the peak month of the epidemic, it is estimated that there were about 2800 cases. In field studies low red-cell cholinesterase activities were associated with the signs and symptoms of organophosphate insecticide intoxication. Toxicity was seen with 3 different formulations of the insecticide and was greatest with the products containing increased amounts of isomalathion, a toxic malathion degradation product. Poor work practices, which had developed when D.D.T. was the primary insecticide for malaria control, resulted in excessive skin contact with and percutaneous absorption of the pesticide. Airborne malathion concentrations were very low. Implementation of good work practices and proscription of use of the 2 pesticide formulations most contaminated with isomalathion halted the epidemic in September. An extensive training programme and surveillance system for pesticide toxicity preceded 1977 spraying operations.

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