Copper sulphate, toxicology, methemoglobinaemia
Background: Copper is an essential trace element of the human body. However, it is related to many diseases. Copper intoxication is not common in Western countries, but needs to be rapidly recognised because of its high lethality.
Case presentation: We report the case of a 40-year-old woman who presented to the emergency department after performing intrarectal administration of a blue powder sent from Cameroon by her family, in the belief that this would help her to get pregnant. Her evolution was complicated by multiorgan failure and the unusual circumstances. The diagnosis was suspected on the basis of the clinical presentation and the colour of the powder, and confirmed by blood dosage and toxicological analysis of the powder. She underwent symptomatic treatment, and the outcome was progressively favourable, apart from persistent chronic renal failure with dependence on dialysis.
Conclusion: Copper intoxications are rare but severe. Laboratory diagnosis of the condition is not an issue; the difficulty is suspecting it and quickly initiating chelation treatment associated with symptomatic treatments.
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Issue: 2020: Vol 7 No 2 (view)