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More On Neurotoxic Symptoms In Casualties Of Chemical Warfare During Seattle/WTO





---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 23:01:40 -0800
From: "kirk james murphy, md" <kmurphy@ucla.edu>

More On Neurotoxic Symptoms In Casualties Of Chemical Warfare During
Seattle WTO Meeting

    The indiscriminate use of chemical warfare in areas of Seattle during
the week of the WTO meeting ensured widespread exposure in protesters,
residents, employees of local businesses, and passers-by. The Direct
Action Medical Collective initially collected individual reports of
symptoms in casualties of chemical warfare; subsequently, Physicians For
Social Responsibility-Los Angeles has assumed the task of collecting and
compiling reports of symptoms and exposure from individual casualties of
the chemical weapons used in Seattle. 

       Unfortunately, discussion of the neurotoxic symptoms observed in
victims of the chemical weapons used in Seattle has become obscured by use
of the term "nerve gas".  Given that "nerve gases"  are commonly
understood to have rapid, lethal effects on a significant proportion of
exposed casualties, this term obviously is not appropriate for discussion
of the chemical warfare agents discharged in Seattle during the week of
the WTO meeting.  For this reason, use of the term "nerve gas" should be
avoided by those attempting to ascertain the cause of the neurotoxic
symptoms listed below. 

     In the aftermath of widespread exposure to chemical weapons in
Seattle, scores of individuals who were exposed to chemical weapons on
December 1 in the Capitol Hill neighborhood or the Pike Place Market area
(and surrounding blocks) have filed case reports of symptoms not
consistent with the irritant effects of pepper spray (OC) or tear gas (CS,
CN).  These symptoms include: 

blurred vision with altered pupil size

warm, flushed skin (in areas not exposed to irritants) without fever

rapid heart rate (tachycardia) with or without irregular heart rate

nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

abrupt onset of menstruation (not synchronized with menstrual cycle)

twitching (fasciculations) or persistent contractions of skeletal muscles

incoordination (dysregulation) of muscular (motor) activity

difficulties in concentration, attention, and/or word-finding capacities

convulsions, confusion, disorientation, nocturnal hallucinations

      A significant proportion of those reporting the aforementioned
symptoms have reported the persistence of (1) warm, flushed skin; (2)
nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; (3) skeletal muscular fasciculations
and/or incoordination; (4) diminished concentration, attention,
word-finding, and mental acuity for days after the exposure. 

 

    Physicians For Social Responsibility-Los Angeles is collecting case
reports of the symptoms listed above in individuals exposed to chemical
weapons in Seattle during the week of the WTO protests.  To make a report
via phone, please call (310) 458-2694 during normal weekday working hours. 
To make a report via email, please send reports to psrsm@psr.org.  Details
of what information to include in the report are provided at the end of
this message. 

     PSR-LA will also coordinate the collection and (when appropriate) 
chemical analysis of chemical weapons containers and other items
(clothing, bandanas, caps, etc) which were directly contaminated by
chemical weapons which may be responsible for the symptoms listed above. 
If you possess a chemical munitions container (or you experienced the
symptoms listed above and still have not washed items which were
contaminated when you were exposed to the chemical weapons), please
consult the information below and please also contact PSR-LA to discuss
collection and chemical analysis of the contaminated items. 

      Individuals who wish to submit their case reports directly to a
physician may submit them to me at via email <kmurphy@ucla.edu>;  along
with PSR-LA, I will hold all information in strictest confidence.  If you
are willing to allow description of your symptoms to be released in a
manner which does not identify you or divulge any personal information
about you, please indicate so in your email communication to me or in your
phone/email communication to PSR-LA. Due to the fact that my voicemail
boxes are unable to accommodate the large volume of calls from casualties
of the chemical warfare in Seattle, I must respectfully request that phone
reports of casualties be routed through PSR-LA.  I will continue to
attempt to supply information (although, of course, neither diagnosis or
treatment is appropriate via phone contact) for affected parties to share
with their health care providers. 

     All the victims of chemical warfare in Seattle continue to have my
deepest respect and sympathy.  Along with PSR-LA, the Direct Action
Medical Collective, and other organizations committed to the safety and
well-being of all those who were exposed to the chemical weapons used in
Seattle, I will continue to be working in the coming days to find,
identify, and disseminate information which may be of service to the
victims of the WTO chemical warfare, their families, and their health
providers. 

(A) CASE REPORT/DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS

The relevant issues for PSR data collection from chemical warfare victims
are: 

(1) Identity, contact information/address of victims of chemical warfare. 
(For those who wish to remain anonymous, please provide a ten-character
alpha-numeric identifier composed of a random assembly and sequence of
numerals and capital/lower-case letters.  Do not use any existing words to
generate your identifier - we will be unable to distinguish duplicates. 
The identifier system will be a hassle for us - please elect this option
only if you feel it is truly necessary.)

(2) date(s), time(s), location(s) of exposure(s) to chemical weapons; 

(3) presence/nature/onset time/duration (or "fade date") of
"non-irritant"/"neurotoxic" symptoms (witnessed or experienced);

- blurred vision (with possible change in pupil size) 

-warm, flushed skin (in areas not exposed to irritants) without fever

- tachycardia (with/without irregular heart rate) 

- nausea/vomiting/diarrhea/abdominal cramping

- abrupt onset of menstruation (out of cycle) 

- twitching and/or sustained contraction of skeletal muscles

- muscular weakness or incoordination or loss of muscular control or
persistent fatigue/weakness

- mental status changes (difficulty in concentrating, word-finding
difficulties, lethargy, disorientation, nocturnal hallucinations) 

(4) PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

- Canisters, projectiles, other munitions - ESPECIALLY THOSE UNMARKED OR
NOT BEARING THE WORDS "OC"/"OLEORESIN CAPSAISCUM"/"CS"/ - any
modifications of the above (eg CX, BZ, CN IV) are also of SPECIAL
INTEREST. 

- Clothing or other items (masks, scarves, caps, backpacks, gloves,
goggles, etc) present at the time of exposure to agents causing and/or at
the onset of the "neurotoxic"/"non-irritant" symptoms listed above.  Items
should not have been laundered/decontaminated since exposure

-Those possessing such items should
     (a) take photograph of item on current front page of paper (date
visible) to confirm time of possession along with piece of paper legibly
bearing your surname or unique identifier. 
     (b) record serial #'s, manufacturer, any other data - UNMARKED
CANISTERS OR THOSE WITHOUT LEGIBLE MARKINGS MAY BE PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT
     (c) store items in sealed plastic bag in area not accesible to 
pets/children/moisture/food and away from sleeping area - place 
plastic bag in metal tin of sort used for holiday cookies.
     (d) NOTIFY PSR-LA ASAP via phone (310)458-2694 or email 
(psrsm@psr.org) - PLEASE DO NOT MAIL OR SHIP ITEMS - we will arrange 
for items to be taken into direct physical possession of secure 
courier(s) to ensure preservation of chain of evidence and to ensure 
that critical evidence is not "lost" during shipping/mail/transfer.

(5) any treatment(s)/decontamination/response or lack thereof to same; 

(6) exposure to chemical weapons without direct irritation (eg - some
victims reported experiencing the onset of the "non-irritant" symptoms
after exposure to a fine powderish suspended aerosol emitted by projectile
devices in the Pike's Place area, but did not experience any symptoms of
irritation such as burning on mucous membranes, eyes, airways, or skin).