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Clin Toxicol (Phila) ; 59(12): 1228-1233, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1160210


BACKGROUND: Poison Centers are uniquely positioned to respond to an unprecedented public health threat such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as fully operational 24-h hotlines already staffed with healthcare professionals. METHODS: On January 27, 2020 the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) agreed to operate the New Jersey Coronavirus Hotline. Call patterns, subject matter, and staffing and infrastructure strategies that were implemented to meet the demand are described. In addition, a sample of 1500 individual calls were collected and analyzed in an endeavor to describe call times, call days, area from which the call originated, callers to the hotline, primary language of the caller, and why a call was placed to the hotline. Binomial regression analysis was utilized in an attempt to identify significant patterns. RESULTS: Since the inception of the hotline through October 31, NJPIES responded to 57,579 calls for COVID-19 information. Most calls (68.7%) were regarding testing for COVID-19 and for general questions/symptoms. Call types varied when they were analyzed by time of day with calls for general questions/symptoms and where to get tested for COVID-19 showing a significant association for the early morning hours, how to obtain test results being significantly associated with the afternoon hours, and how to renew or obtain a medical license showing a significant association to the evening hours. We additionally noted that specific call types became significant when analyzed on a week-to-week basis and as specific events, like the enactment of the CARES Act of 2020, occurred. CONCLUSION: Although not the traditional role of a regional Poison Control Center, pandemic response synergizes with the workflow of this hotline because the infrastructure, staffing, and healthcare expertise are already present. Poison centers can rapidly adapt through scaling and process change to meet the needs of the public during times of public health threats.

COVID-19 , Hotlines , Poison Control Centers , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , New Jersey/epidemiology , Pandemics , Poison Control Centers/organization & administration
EClinicalMedicine ; 32: 100741, 2021 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1071273


BACKGROUND: Suicides by any method, plus 'nonsuicide' fatalities from drug self-intoxication (estimated from selected forensically undetermined and 'accidental' deaths), together represent self-injury mortality (SIM)-fatalities due to mental disorders or distress. SIM is especially important to examine given frequent undercounting of suicides amongst drug overdose deaths. We report suicide and SIM trends in the United States of America (US) during 1999-2018, portray interstate rate trends, and examine spatiotemporal (spacetime) diffusion or spread of the drug self-intoxication component of SIM, with attention to potential for differential suicide misclassification. METHODS: For this state-based, cross-sectional, panel time series, we used de-identified manner and underlying cause-of-death data for the 50 states and District of Columbia (DC) from CDC's Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research. Procedures comprised joinpoint regression to describe national trends; Spearman's rank-order correlation coefficient to assess interstate SIM and suicide rate congruence; and spacetime hierarchical modelling of the 'nonsuicide' SIM component. FINDINGS: The national annual average percentage change over the observation period in the SIM rate was 4.3% (95% CI: 3.3%, 5.4%; p<0.001) versus 1.8% (95% CI: 1.6%, 2.0%; p<0.001) for the suicide rate. By 2017/2018, all states except Nebraska (19.9) posted a SIM rate of at least 21.0 deaths per 100,000 population-the floor of the rate range for the top 5 ranking states in 1999/2000. The rank-order correlation coefficient for SIM and suicide rates was 0.82 (p<0.001) in 1999/2000 versus 0.34 (p = 0.02) by 2017/2018. Seven states in the West posted a ≥ 5.0% reduction in their standardised mortality ratios of 'nonsuicide' drug fatalities, relative to the national ratio, and 6 states from the other 3 major regions a >6.0% increase (p<0.05). INTERPRETATION: Depiction of rising SIM trends across states and major regions unmasks a burgeoning national mental health crisis. Geographic variation is plausibly a partial product of local heterogeneity in toxic drug availability and the quality of medicolegal death investigations. Like COVID-19, the nation will only be able to prevent SIM by responding with collective, comprehensive, systemic approaches. Injury surveillance and prevention, mental health, and societal well-being are poorly served by the continuing segregation of substance use disorders from other mental disorders in clinical medicine and public health practice. FUNDING: This study was partially funded by the National Centre for Injury Prevention and Control, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (R49CE002093) and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (1UM1DA049412-01; 1R21DA046521-01A1).

Ther Drug Monit ; 43(2): 221-228, 2021 04 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-968225


ABSTRACT: Discovered in the 1960s, the common anthelminthic levamisole has seen widespread use in veterinary applications. Its use rapidly expanded thereafter to include human medical treatments for a variety of acute and chronic disorders. Because of reports of severe adverse effects, the US Food and Drug Administration withdrew levamisole's approval for human use in 2000; however, medical options outside the United States and illicit options worldwide allow continued accessibility to levamisole. The compound is rapidly metabolized in the body, with at least 2 known active metabolites. Levamisole has a broad range of immunomodulatory effects, including both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on immune responses. It is generally well tolerated at therapeutic concentrations, although a variety of autoimmune-related adverse effects have been reported, including agranulocytosis, leukopenia, purpura, and visible necrotized skin tissue. Individuals with levamisole-compromised immune systems are more susceptible to infections, including COVID-19. Since the early 2000's, levamisole has been frequently used as an adulterating agent in illicit street drugs, especially cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin. Although its prevalence has varied over time and geographically, levamisole has been detected in up to 79% of the street supply of cocaine at levels up to 74% by weight. Its presence in illicit drug markets also raises concern over the potential for exposure of children and neonates, although this is supported by only limited anecdotal evidence. Levamisole is not currently included in routine drug testing panels, although a variety of confirmatory testing techniques exist across a range of antemortem and postmortem specimen options. Because of its varying presence in illicit drug markets, both the medical and forensic communities need to be aware of levamisole and its potential impact on toxicological investigations.

COVID-19/epidemiology , Illicit Drugs/chemistry , Levamisole/pharmacology , Levamisole/toxicity , Cocaine/chemistry , Female , Fentanyl/chemistry , Heroin/chemistry , Humans , Infant, Newborn , Levamisole/chemistry , Levamisole/pharmacokinetics , Pregnancy , Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects/pathology , SARS-CoV-2 , United States/epidemiology