58ºF

South Florida doctor speaks about effects of carbon monoxide

Doctors advise public to invest in carbon monoxide detector sold at hardware stores

WILTON MANORS, Fla. – A South Florida doctor spoke to Local 10 News about the effects of carbon monoxide, a day after a Wilton Manors family was poisoned.

Dr. Randy Katz said carbon monoxide is a silent killer that's colorless and odorless. That's why the Agro family had no idea that the deadly gas was slipping into their home while they slept.

"Just like any other gas, it will seep though windows, walls, outdoors, any opening, that gas can leak out," Katz said.

Katz is an emergency room doctor at Memorial Regional in Hollywood. He said carbon monoxide basically suffocates its victims at the molecular level.

"Essentially it disables your hemoglobin molecule, and therefore that hemoglobin molecule is no longer capable of attaching to an oxygen molecule and the body starved itself of oxygen," said Katz.

Katz said symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure begin innocently enough with a little headache and maybe some nausea. But as the exposure to the gas continue, patients can suffer seizures, fall into a coma and eventually die.

In the case of the Agro family, the father, 43-year-old Louis Agro was killed. His wife, Regina and 11-year-old daughter Sophia are still in the hospital in critical condition.  Three others were also taken to area hospitals.

Katz said victims are treated with oxygen to replace the carbon monoxide molecules in the blood stream that are preventing the body from breathing. Hyperbaric chambers are often used to treat victims in the most serious condition.

"Patients who are either pregnant and exposed to carbon monoxide, patients that are seizing or patients that are found in a coma," Katz said.

Doctors claim the best way to protect yourself is to buy a carbon monoxide detector, which are sold in any hardware store.

The devices are similar to smoke detectors, but sound an alarm when they detect the deadly gas in the air. Local 10 News found one sold at Home Depot for just $20.

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10