Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Acute pesticide poisoning: a proposed classification tool

Josef G Thundiyil, Judy Stober, Nida Besbelli, Jenny Pronczuk

Cases of acute pesticide poisoning (APP) account for significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Developing countries are particularly susceptible due to poorer regulation, lack of surveillance systems, less enforcement, lack of training and inadequate access to information systems. Previous research has demonstrated wide variability in incidence rates for APP. This is possibly due to inconsistent reporting methodology and exclusion of occupational and non-intentional poisonings. The purpose of this document is to create a standard case definition to facilitate the identification and diagnosis of all causes of APP, especially at the field level, rural clinics and primary health-care systems. This document is a synthesis of existing literature and case definitions that have been previously proposed by other authors around the world. It provides a standardized case definition and classification scheme for APP into categories of probable, possible and unlikely/unknown cases. Its use is intended to be applicable worldwide to contribute to identification of the scope of existing problems and thus promote action for improved management and prevention. By enabling a field diagnosis for APP, this standardized case definition may facilitate immediate medical management of pesticide poisoning and aid in estimating its incidence.