‘Mass allergy’: Acute scombroid poisoning in a deployed Australian Defence Force health facility


  • David Ian Ward, MBBS MPH & TM FACEM FACTM pjrcsp, Lieutenant Colonel.

Associate Professor David Ian Ward, 4 Barrett Place, Everton Park, Qld 4053, Australia. Email: david_ian_ward@hotmail.com


On the last night of disaster relief operations in Sumatra, Indonesia, a mass casualty event occurred that involved deployed Australian Defence Force personnel. Symptoms of acute urticaria, angioedema, wheeze and gastrointestinal upset were experienced to varying degrees by 16% of the deployed element. The present report describes a presumed scombroid poisoning cluster and demonstrates the difficulties of operating in a deployed environment, the confusion that might be associated with evolving non-kinetic mass casualties, and provides a learning opportunity for an unusual mass casualty incident.