Case definition

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March 11, 2005 

Page 1 of 1 



Adamsite (Diphenylaminechloroarsine or DM)




Clinical description 


The majority of exposures occur by inhalation and typically lead to symptoms of ocular, nasal, and respiratory 

tract irritation. Nonspecific gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., vomiting or diarrhea) might also occur. The effects 

of adamsite poisoning take minutes to begin and might last for hours (1). If a rapid onset of manifestations of 

one of the following respiratory effects occurs, the clinical description for adamsite poisoning has been met: 

nose or throat irritation, cough, or dyspnea.  


Laboratory criteria for diagnosis 



Biologic: No biologic marker is available for adamsite exposure.  


Environmental: No method is available to detect adamsite in environmental samples.  


Case classification 



Suspected: A case in which a potentially exposed person is being evaluated by health-care workers or public 

health officials for poisoning by a particular chemical agent, but no specific credible threat exists.  


Probable: A clinically compatible case in which a high index of suspicion (credible threat or patient history 

regarding location and time) exists for adamsite exposure, or an epidemiologic link exists between this case 

and a laboratory-confirmed case.  


Confirmed: A clinically compatible case in which laboratory tests (not available for adamsite) have 

confirmed exposure.  


The case can be confirmed if laboratory testing was not performed because either a predominant amount of 

clinical and nonspecific laboratory evidence of a particular chemical was present or a 100% certainty of the 

etiology of the agent is known.  


Additional resources 



Sidell FR. Riot control agents. In: Zajtchuk R, Bellamy RF, eds. Textbook of military medicine: medical 

aspects of chemical and biological warfare. Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General at TMM 

Publications, Borden Institute, Walter Reed Army Medical Center; 1997:307-24.  


This document is based on CDC’s best current information.  It may be updated as new information 

becomes available.  For more information, visit

, or call CDC at 

800-CDC-INFO (English and Spanish) or 888-232-6348 (TTY). 


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