Vesicants and nerve agents in chemical warfare. Decontamination and treatment strategies for a changed world

Asha Devereaux, Dennis E Amundson, J S Parrish, Angeline A Lazarus
Postgraduate Medicine 2002, 112 (4): 90-6; quiz 4
Vesicants and nerve agents have been used in chemical warfare for ages. They remain a threat in today's altered political climate because they are relatively simple to produce, transport, and deploy. Vesicants, such as mustard and lewisite, can affect the skin, eyes, respiratory system, and gastrointestinal system. They leave affected persons at risk for long-term effects. Nerve agents, such as tabun, sarin, soman, and VX, hyperstimulate the muscarinic and nicotinic receptors of the nervous system. Physicians need to familiarize themselves with the clinical findings of such exposures and the decontamination and treatment strategies necessary to minimize injuries and deaths.

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