Chemical Warfare (cont.)
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Mustards Treatment and Prognosis
Treatment of mustard exposure is based on symptoms. Because the effects of mustards typically are delayed, people with complaints immediately after exposure may have an additional injury.
Victims with significant respiratory tract burns usually require admission to the hospital’s intensive care unit. Also, victims with several skin burns will be admitted to the burn unit for burn care, pain relief, and supportive care. Blood cell counts will be monitored for 2 weeks following significant exposures. Most people recover completely. Only a small fraction have long-term eye or lung damage. About 2% of those exposed to sulfur mustard in World War I died, mostly due to burns, respiratory tract damage, and bone marrow suppression. Sulfur mustard is known to cause cancer, yet a single exposure causes only a small risk.
Jeffrey L Arnold, MD, FACEP
Suzanne White, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Raymond J Roberge, MD, MPH, FAAEM, FACMT
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This article is for managers who prepare hospital operational plans, for leaders responsible for response activities within a hospital, and for hospital health care providers.