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PHE instructs diners to hand wash spectacles following nerve agent attack

Public Health England has advised up to 500 people to wash their clothes and personal possessions after a poisoning left three people in hospital

16 Mar 2018 by Selina Powell

Public Health England (PHE) has issued advice aimed at members of the public who passed through two Salisbury venues at the time of a nerve agent attack that left three people in hospital.

The advice is for people who visited The Mill pub or nearby Zizzi restaurant between Sunday afternoon and closing time Monday (4–5 March).

PHE emphasised in the statement that the measures are “precautionary.”

“Based on current evidence, the risk to the general public from this substance has not changed and remains low,” the document highlighted.

However, the statement noted that there was a small risk that the substance used in the attack may be present in minute amounts on clothing and possessions, including spectacles.

“Over time, repeated skin contact with contaminated items may pose a small risk to health. This risk can be removed by taking the actions we are explaining in this leaflet.”

Recommended steps include washing clothing and wiping personal items such as phones, electronics and hand bags with cleansing wipes.

“Other items such as jewellery and spectacles which cannot go in the washing machine or be cleaned with cleansing or baby wipes, should be hand washed with warm water and detergent and then rinsed with clean cold water,” the advice explained.

PHE recommends that people thoroughly wash their hands after cleaning items.

Farah Gatrad, clinical and regulatory officer at the AOP told OT: “Nerve agents are highly toxic and even exposure to small amounts can irritate ocular tissues. By design, nerve agent liquids are easily absorbed and can affect the eyes if there is exposure to vapours and from absorption into the body by other means.”

She continued: “The effects can vary depending on the agent and the route of exposure. They can cause pupil constriction which will lead to blurred vision, pain and headaches and the duration of this can vary from hours to weeks. They can also cause blood shot eyes due to vascular dilation and conjunctivitis.”

Ms Gatrad added: “Thankfully, this is something that optometrists are unlikely to encounter.”

Image credit: Getty

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