Potent injectable anaesthetics are essential for working with wildlife yet they bear an inherent risk of
human incidents and injuries. Accidental and intentional exposures are evident in literature. By
critical analysis we consolidated published cases found in the literature and results from an online
questionnaire to provide a more objective approach to the issue of human exposure. The Modified
Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) was used to rank the cases according to their severity. Intoxications with
potent opioids like etorphine, carfentanil and thiafentanil need to be antagonised with naloxone,
nalmefene or naltrexone, and not with antagonists with agonistic properties, such as diprenorphine.
Concerning the α2-agonists xylazine, detomidine, medetomidine, and romifidine, there is no
antagonist accredited for human use. Atipamezole, the specific α2-antagonist, is widely used in
veterinary medicine and has been used experimentally to reverse dexmetomidine in a human study.
The high concentrations of α2-agonists being used in zoo and wildlife medicine calls for accreditation
of atipamezole in cases of human exposure. Preventive measures, like wearing gloves and eye
protection, to reduce the risk of exposure, need to be used more regularly. Knowledge and availability
of the appropriate antagonist are essential in case of human intoxication with injectable anaesthetics.