Child poisoned by aeroplane chemicals
SK dob 1994, hospital admittance May 1999
Copy of a letter forwarded by the boy’s parents to the Hospital, the Health and Disability Commissioner, and the Minister of Health etc in March 2001.
SK (a 4 year old boy) was admitted to Middlemore with symptoms similar to severe Parkinson’s Disease, ie quivering, drooling, unable to swallow, continual headaches, constant fatigue and joint pain. He was unable to sit up without support, had lost muscle control and couldn’t feed himself. He was unable to ride his bike and couldn’t talk clearly. His pupils were permanently dilated and hadn’t been small for many months. He also had very dark circles under his eyes and he would wake during the night screaming.
Middlemore staff asked many questions about his ancestors and it was suggested by your department that he may have Wilsons’s Disease. There were no questions asked about his living conditions or surroundings. Staff felt it was likely to be a virus that our son had picked up.
Also we weren’t asked if we had taken SK on any long aeroplane trips overseas. SK had been to Disneyland in December 1998 and became ill after that. Passengers on long trips to and from New Zealand are exposed to the insecticide D-Phenothrin which is used to spray the aeroplanes and which can attack the nervous system of some people.
After three days at Middlemore they were unable to find the cause of his problem so you sent him to Starship Hospital for Children. There he was under the care of Dr [ ]. She also contributed to the line of thinking that it was a virus somewhat similar to meningitis.
SK left the hospital with no confirmed diagnosis, but began a long series of visits to the Occupational Therapists at Starship.
During visits to Dr [ ] he made little progress. He still could not ride his bike, continued to fall over and to sleep for unusually long periods during the day. He was not able to start school when he turned 5. S continued to display moody behaviour, had poor balance, poor reflexes and had few fine motor skills, so we took him to Dr Gorringe who diagnosed him with both D-Phenothrin poisoning and Malathion (organo-phospate) poisoning. This meant he’d had a double-hit of pesticide poisoning.
SK had had numerous blood tests done by local doctors and these tests had all shown the symptoms of pesticide poisoning. Dr Gorringe reviewed these blood tests and they showed that S’s bones had stopped growing, believed to be due to pesticide poisoning.
Dr Gorringe put him on a course of treatment and within one month HE STARTED TO IMPROVE rapidly FOR THE FIRST TIME IN a year. He is now 95% recovered.
Since SK became ill we have researched chemical poisoning and have moved to an area which appears to be free of pesticide sprays. Our concern is that there doesn’t seem to be hospital policy of checking for chemical poisoning even when the symptoms indicate this. We are concerned at the large number of people who have similar symptoms and are not being tested for chemical poisoning by registered medical doctors. The NZ medical profession should be aware that medical research scientists have discovered a correlation between pesticide poisoning and Parkinson’s Disease (BBC news, Monday 6 November 2000). Correct diagnoses could save the NZ medical system thousands of dollars.