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CDC: Carbon Monoxide Deaths More Common in Winter

Men and older adults most likely to die of carbon monoxide poisoning

THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- More deaths from carbon monoxide occur in the winter months, likely due to increased use of gas-powered furnaces and other alternative heating sources, according to an article published Dec. 21 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

M. King, Ph.D., from the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, and a colleague report mortality rates and demographic, seasonal and geographic patterns of carbon monoxide poisoning from 1999 to 2004.

During 1999-2004, an average of 439 people died each year from unintentional, non-fire-related carbon monoxide exposure. The most carbon monoxide deaths occur in men, likely because of greater use of fuel-burning devices, and in the elderly, who may mistake symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning for other conditions common in the elderly, such as influenza or fatigue. More deaths occurred in the winter months and in the western and midwestern states.

The authors of an associated editorial write: "Exposure to carbon monoxide can be prevented with basic precautions, including proper installation and maintenance of fuel-burning appliances. Carbon monoxide detectors can alert occupants to accumulating gas and should be placed on every level of a home. Additional measures to educate the public regarding the dangers of carbon monoxide are needed, particularly during the winter season."

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