Man in China poisoned after mistaking his bottle of pesticide for shampoo

DDVP has been banned by some municipalities but is still widely available in China.
PHOTO: Handout

Doctors in southwest China had to shave the head of a patient who mistook a bottle of pesticide for shampoo and washed his hair with the highly toxic substance.

The unidentified man from Kunming in Yunnan province stored the bottle of dichlorvos, or DDVP, next to his shampoo and only realised his error earlier this month when he noticed its smell, Chinese news site reported.

The man soon developed various symptoms, including shivering and sweating, and tried unsuccessfully to wash the pesticide out before seeking treatment at the Yunnan Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, the report said.

"He tried to wash it off with water and vinegar. Actually, in that situation, that was the wrong thing to do," Wu Ying, deputy director of the hospital's emergency department, was quoted as saying, without specifying the correct response.

Doctors treated the man for poisoning and cut off his hair to remove any residue.

"We had to use disposable razors. A few doctors cut the hair with scissors and then it was shaved off," Wu was quoted as saying.

The patient made a full recovery after a few days, in large part because he sought treatment in time, the report said.

Developed from nerve gas agents, DDVP is used in household and industrial pesticides and has been banned in the European Union for the last two decades because of its toxicity and lasting impact on the environment. It has also been banned by some municipal governments in China such as Guangzhou but it is still available for sale in many areas, including Kunming.

Some rural residents also use DDVP as a home remedy to stop itching, fleas and eczema. In November, a five-year-old girl from Henan province in central China nearly died after her grandmother washed her hair with diluted DDVP to try to get rid of fleas on the child's head, Dahe Daily reported.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.