Thursday, January 27, 2005

Clearly NOT the happiest place on earth...

Why oh why does my dear sweet frozen wasteland of Wisconsin only make the national news when twisted shit happens? Really...why? Can someone please explain it to me?

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that a 15 year old boy is being charged with attempted murder for allegedly giving his family mouse poison over the past 5 weeks "because he was mad at them."

But, and here's where the future lawyer (and former debater) in me comes out...was he really trying to kill them?

According to the complaint "he did not want to kill his family, just make them sick because he was mad at them."

Is this just an excuse, what anyone accused of attempted murder would likely say? Well, the science says he's likely telling the truth (although I doubt he actually knew this was the case). You'd have to eat in excess of 3 pounds of d-Con over 2 days to get a fatal dose...and I don't think you could easily hide that in someone's food.

A 15-year-old Wisconsin boy has been charged with attempted murder for slipping mouse poison into his family's food over a five-week period. His mother, stepfather, and 3-year-old half-sister suffered a variety of nonlethal symptoms, including stomach pains and vomiting. The alleged perpetrator has told police that he didn't intend to kill his family, just to make them ill. How much mouse poison can a human ingest without dying?

Quite a bit, if it's the kind this troubled Wisconsin teen allegedly employed and if medical care is administered in a timely fashion. The mouse poison in question was reportedly the d-Con brand; d-Con's active ingredient is brodifacoum. This substance is classified as a superwarfarin, a family of potent, long-acting anticoagulants, or blood thinners. It is a relative of warfarin, an anticoagulant discovered in the 1940s by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; the foundation's scientists found the chemical in spoiled sweet-clover hay, which was causing fatal hemorrhaging in some cattle. Warfarin is still used today to prevent blood clots.
There is no consensus on how much brodifacoum constitutes a lethal dose for humans; there simply haven't been enough cases of brodifacoum poisoning for medical researchers to study. Toxicity depends not only on how much has been ingested but on the ingester's weight, health, and various other factors. According to a monograph from the International Programme on Chemical Safety, however, there have been a few isolated cases of people surviving extremely large doses. In 1984, for example, a disturbed pregnant woman was admitted to a hospital after ingesting 75 milligrams of brodifacoum over two days. That's equivalent to a whopping 50 ounces of d-Con mouse poison. She survived, although she suffered severe hemorrhaging throughout her body and lost her baby.

A much smaller dose of just a few milligrams could theoretically be fatal, but only if no medical attention was given. Fortunately, the antidote to brodifacoum is the readily available vitamin K1. Ten milligrams to 20 milligrams of vitamin K1 usually does the trick, followed by regular 5 milligram doses for the next month if necessary. In worst-case scenarios, a blood transfusion may also be necessary. (Information on the Wisconsin family's treatment has not been released to the public.)