Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Arsine toxicity aboard the Asiafreighter.

Br Med J 1975; 3 doi: (Published 06 September 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;3:559
  1. S P Wilkinson,
  2. P McHugh,
  3. S Horsley,
  4. H Tubbs,
  5. M Lewis,
  6. A Thould,
  7. M Winterton,
  8. V Parsons,
  9. R Williams


    Eight sailors on board the Asiafreighter were exposed to arsine that had escaped from a cylinder in the cargo hold. Four suffered severe toxicity and within a few hours had developed fever, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and haemoglobinuria. These patients had pronounced intravascular haemolysis, which in one patient was complete. This patient was also stuporose and anoxic, a condition attributed to failure of oxygen transport and sludging of red cell debris in the cerebral and pulmonary circulations, but he regained a normal level of consciousness after exchange transfusion. Evidence of marrow depression was present: the reticulocyte response to the haemolysis was poor and there was a thrombocytopenia. All four patients developed renal failure, one being totally anuric for five weeks. Two patients developed peripheral neuropathy, and one was still severely disabled six months after the incident. The other four patients had a similar, though less severe, illness.