Nearly 3,600 patients with neurotoxic symptoms were treated in three Damascus hospitals on the day a toxic gas attack was reported, say Doctors Without Borders (MSF). 355 patients were reportedly pronounced dead.
The international medical humanitarian organization said it received information from hospitals it has been supporting in Syria.
“Medical staff working in these facilities provided detailed information to MSF doctors regarding large numbers of patients arriving with symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress,” MSF director of operations, Dr. Bart Janssens said in a press-release published on the organization’s webpage.
However, MSF could not “scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms”.
“The reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events—characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers—strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent,” Janssens says in the report.
At the same time, he says they are unable to “establish who is responsible for the attack”.
Hospitals have been reportedly treating patients with atropine, an antidote drug used to cure nerve gas poisoning that MSF supply to the facilities.
It follows from the report that MSF will now replenish “empty stocks” and deliver additional medical supplies.
“In addition to 1,600 vials of atropine supplied over recent months, MSF has now dispatched 7,000 additional vials to facilities in the area. Treatment of neurotoxic patients is now being fully integrated into MSF’s medical strategies in all its programs in Syria,” the press-release reads.