Volume 44, Issue 4 (July 1999)
Fatal Brodifacoum Rodenticide Poisoning: Autopsy and Toxicologic Findings
This report details the pathologic and toxicologic findings in the case of a 15-year-old girl who deliberately and fatally ingested brodifacoum, a commonly used rodenticide. The mechanism of death, massive pulmonary hemorrhage, has not been previously reported. Brodifacoum was quantitated in liver, spleen, lung, brain, bile, vitreous humor, heart blood, and femoral blood using HPLC with fluorescence detection. The highest brodifacoum concentrations were detected in bile (4276 ng/mL) and femoral blood (3919 ng/mL). No brodifacoum was detected in brain or vitreous humor. A brodifacoum concentration of 50 ng/g was observed in frozen liver while formalin fixed liver exhibited a concentration of 820 ng/g. A very high blood:liver brodifacoum concentration ratio suggested acute poisoning but the historical and pathologic findings suggested a longer period of anticoagulation. Though most cases of brodifacoum poisoning in humans are non-fatal, this compound can be deadly because of its very long half-life. Forensic pathologists and toxicologists should suspect superwarfarin rodenticides when confronted with cases of unexplained bleeding. Anticoagulant poisoning can mimic fatal leukemia or infectious diseases such as bacterial sepsis, rickettsioses, plague, and leptospirosis. A thorough death scene investigation may provide clues that a person has ingested these substances.