Docs Without Borders: 3,600 with ‘neurotoxic symptoms,’ 355 die in Syria

Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders
Syria January 2013

Doctors Without Borders operating in Syria reported a horrific death toll after the alleged chemical weapon attack on Wednesday.

The international medical humanitarian group issued a statement Saturday on its website reporting that three hospitals run by the organization in Syria treated “approximately 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on the morning of Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Of those patients, 355 reportedly died.”

According to the statement from Doctors Without Borders Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF):

“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,” said Dr. Bart Janssens, MSF director of operations.

Patients were treated using MSF-supplied atropine, a drug used to treat neurotoxic symptoms. MSF is now trying to replenish the facilities’ empty stocks and provide additional medical supplies and guidance.

“MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack,” said Dr. Janssens. “However, 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. This would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law, which absolutely prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons.”

On Saturday morning, President Obama reportedly met with his national security team to discuss possible military options in Syria, Politico reported.

Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Friday that, at the request of the president, U.S. naval ships have begun moving closer to Syria in preparation of any military action Obama might order.

More from Doctors Without Borders.

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