Florida carbon monoxide poisoning

The car was discovered on the Florida turnpike, shown here. (Flickr / Creative Commons / Prayitno)

Last week, an apparent Florida carbon monoxide poisoning was fatal, killing a mother and daughter, according to WFTV 9.

The mother was 46-years-old. She had purchased a car from a buy-here, pay-here type dealership. It was a Porsche Cayenne. There is an investigation into what happened with the car before it was purchased.

Sources at the scene said that the car may have had work done on it before the accident. This information is unconfirmed by authorities, but there was a mechanics receipt on the passenger’s seat of the car.

The authorities said that the cause of death was not the accident. The mother and daughter showed signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, red skin, rashes, and vomiting. They were found bumping into the guardrail on the Florida Turnpike in the recently purchased car. When the police pulled up, the mother and daughter were already dead.

Yet, when the air was tested, it tested negative for carbon monoxide.  An hour had passed between the first spotting of the vehicle by troopers and the hazmat tests. This may have led to the initial negative test result. Ideally, the test would have been done immediately after the two were discovered for the most accurate reading.

Carbon monoxide deprives the brain of oxygen, which can cause serious consequences and, in the Florida carbon monoxide poisoning, death. Even if the poisoning is not fatal like in this case, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause brain damage because of the brain being oxygen-starved.

The area of the brain that is particularly vulnerable is the hippocampus. In patients who survive carbon monoxide poisoning, we see hippocampal atrophies in their magnetic resonance imagings (MRIs). Atrophy is a term that means cell loss. When the hippocampus degenerates, this diminishes the person’s memory. Even if the patient survives, the memory impairments can be life-long.

The cerebellum and the basal ganglia can also be particularly vulnerable areas of the brain. The hippocampus is especially vulnerable because it is deep in the middle of the brain, at the end of the brain’s oxygen route.

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