Published Online: 25 May 2005
Page Count: 5
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Louisville, Kentucky
Emergency Department, Harrison County Hospital, Corydon, Indiana
Director, Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center Louisville, Kentucky
(Received 19 June 2004; accepted 5 March 2005)
Selenium is a ubiquitous element in the environment essential to the human diet and widely utilized in industrial processes. Fatal human selenium intoxication is rare. The authors report a case in which investigators recovered a bottle of gun-bluing agent beside a 24-year-old man. He exhibited signs and symptoms typical of acute selenium intoxication presenting with nausea and vomiting, followed by pulmonary edema and rapid cardiovascular collapse approximately 3 to 4 h after ingestion. Classic electrocardiographic (EKG) changes, which have been reported to occur in acute selenium intoxication, included sinus tachycardia with ST wave alteration. Toxicological results confirmed elevated blood and tissue concentrations. The cause of death was ascribed to acute selenium intoxication, which ensued rapidly after oral consumption. The manner of death was suicide. This case report, which presents an overview of acute and chronic selenium poisoning, underscores the value of thorough toxicologic analyses of tissue and body fluids in humans.
Paper ID: JFS2004247