Rapid COVID Test Reagent Fluid Could Be Deadly for Kids

(Reuters) – In some COVID-19 rapid test kits, the small bottle of reagent fluid contains sodium azide, a powerful poison that is particularly dangerous for small children, experts warn.

In adults, small amounts can quickly cause dangerously low blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, or even heart attacks or strokes, said Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, Co-Medical Director of the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C. Higher doses can be fatal, she and her colleagues wrote in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Sodium azide levels in COVID-19 rapid test kits are not always high enough to cause low blood pressure in adults, and the iHealth kits being sent out by the U.S. government do not contain any sodium azide at all, Johnson-Arbor said. “However… since children are typically much smaller than adults, they are at a higher risk of experiencing poisonous effects after swallowing any amount,” she said.

Poison control hotlines have been getting reports of accidental exposures to the reagent fluid. “Some people have swallowed the solution, some have spilled it onto their skin, and others have put it in their eyes,” mistaking the bottle for eye drops, Johnson-Arbor said. “If you or a loved one swallows the reagent fluid or gets the fluid in their eyes or on the skin, contact Poison Control right away.” (In the U.S., at www.poison.org or 1-800-222-1222; in the UK at https://www.npis.org/).

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3J8DXkP American Journal of Emergency Medicine, online January 25, 2022.

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