Pesticide Illness Surveillance: The Nicaraguan Experience

  • Antón, Feliciano P.;
  • Cole, Donald A.;
  • McConnell, Rob;
  • Murray, Douglas L.


In 1984, work designed to expand cholinesterase screening activities and improve the reporting of pesticide poisonings was initiated in Nicaragua's Leon-Chinandega region as a pilot project.

Using a field tintometric method, 1,960 workers were screened for whole blood cholinesterase. The percentage with low cholinesterase activity levels (50% or less) increased sharply during the peak spraying season. Airfield workers were most affected, though a noteworthy share of certain agricultural workers were also found to have low levels. Workers who used certain kinds of personal protective equipment were significantly less affected (p < .05)

In addition to these survey findings, six deaths and 396 pesticide- related poisonings were reported in the Leon-Chinandega region in 1984. This indicated a relatively high rate of 74.6 poisoning cases per 100,000 inhabitants, 84% of them occurring in October-December. Ninety-four percent of the cases reported via questionnaires were occupationally related, small farms being the most affected. Methyl parathion was implicated in roughly half of these cases, two-thirds of which were due to de mal exposure.

Policy recommendations derived from the initial results reported here include reduction of methyl parathion use, installation of closed systems for safer aircraft loading, provision and use of clothing that protects the skin against exposure, and restriction of pesticide work by minors.


JOURNAL: Bull Pan Am Health Organ. 1988; 22(2): 119-132.

Note: Bulletin of the Pan American Health Organization.

NLOM ID#: No ID #.

This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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