What kind of shampoo was that?

A rather odd story in yesterday's Science Times that seemed more like something out of News of the Weird.  The woman was admitted to the hospital for treatment of poisoning with insecticides.  But, every time she would improve from the treatment, she would get worse again.  Turned out, the primary contamination was in her hair and it was not until they shaved her head that she made a nice recovery.  So, what happened?

Now her doctors wondered, How did her hair become impregnated with
insecticide in quantities to bring her to the brink of death? This was
no casual exposure. She denied a suicide
attempt ? swallowing would have been more direct. Nor could it have
been attempted murder ? there are easier ways to administer poisons
more covertly.

The answer came from the patient when she fully
awakened. She remembered exactly what she had done before becoming ill:
her usual activities, except that she had gotten her hair shampooed by
a neighbor.

The neighbor, when contacted, was willing to bring
in the shampoo. Chagrined, she showed up shortly, bringing two
containers. One held shampoo. The other, a similar jug, contained an
organophosphate insecticide. Both receptacles were the same size, the
labels old and blurred.

I must have used the wrong one, she said, when told that her friend was just recovering from insecticide poisoning.

I've not used a lot of pesticide in my day, but the stuff I have did not exactly smell like shampoo.  I wonder what brand that woman normally uses.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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