Anim Van Wyk How ‘healing’ Doom insecticide can harm humans

A religious “prophet” in South Africa who claims to “heal” his congregants by spraying them with the insecticide Doom has made international headlines. South African news channel eNCA reported that pastor Lethebo Rabalago from the Mount Zion General Assembly in Limpopo “commands demons to enter into people’s bodies so that they can manifest”. Then he… Read more »

Pictures from the Mount Zion General Assembly church on Facebook show congregants being "healed" with Doom.
Pictures from the Mount Zion General Assembly church on Facebook show congregants being “healed” with Doom.

A religious “prophet” in South Africa who claims to “heal” his congregants by spraying them with the insecticide Doom has made international headlines.

South African news channel eNCA reported that pastor Lethebo Rabalago from the Mount Zion General Assembly in Limpopo “commands demons to enter into people’s bodies so that they can manifest”. Then he sprays his congregants with Doom to drive it out.

While it is beyond Africa Check’s abilities to verify whether demons exist and if so, whether Doom will make them flee, the physical dangers of Doom to humans are very real.

Several symptoms

Doom sprays exist in different types, each with varying ingredients, the head of the Poisons Information Centre at the University of Cape Town, Dr Cindy Stephen, told Africa Check.

The active ingredient in is pyrethroid. This chemical interferes with an insect’s nervous system causing it to become paralysed and eventually die.

In humans, pyrethroid exposure can cause several symptoms – depending on the exact product, someone’s medical history, whether they are a child or adult and just how much Doom they’ve been exposed to.

Stephen pointed out  “significant exposure” to Doom in some of the pictures where the pastor sprays his congregants. Such exposure can cause:

  • flushing of the skin,
  • headache,
  • vertigo (feeling like you are falling),
  • general tingling all over the body,
  • fainting,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhoea,
  • coughing,
  • shortness of breath and
  • weakness.

People may also experience excessive salivation. In high enough quantities, Doom can trigger an acute asthma attack in susceptible people. If this is not attended to quickly, the person can die.

Call UCT Poisons’ helpline – 0861 555 777 – for help if you have been exposed to Doom or any other poison.