Let's say that your attic has become a home for certain furry creatures with long tails who cause most people to exclaim, "EEK!" I experienced this while bringing down Christmas decorations. Gnawed strings of lights, nibbled candles and those unmistakable droppings left me with no doubt that I had company! What would you do in this situation?
You would probably go to your local grocery or hardware store to find products, called rodenticides, designed to help with your "mouse problem." Out of a large number of available products, how would you select one that is safe for your children and pets?
Mouse traps, spring traps or glue traps are generally safe. They do not contain any chemicals and pet and children who are exposed to them do not usually require treatment. Mouse baits, however, are laced with chemicals that are poisonous to humans and to animals.
The bait rodenticides are available in a form of pellet-filled trays or solid "cakes." The pellets and cakes are made of food material attractive to rodents (i.e., peanut butter, cereal grain). Baits are often placed in areas where they can be easily accessible to children and pets, such as underneath radiators, ovens, near refrigerators or trash.
Easy accessibility, food-like taste and smell, and bright colors make these rodenticides a frequent source of accidental ingestions. The most common bait available on the market contain a chemical that is an anticoagulant. It works by preventing blood from properly clotting, thereby causing internal bleeding in mice and rats. In children and pets the decrease in clotting ability can lead to bruising of skin and bleeding from those nose, gums, minor cuts, scrapes and internal organs. Examples of anticoagulant rodenticides include D-CON MOUSE PRUF II and TALON.
Anticoagulants are especially dangerous because the effects may be delayed . The normal appearance of your child or pet may give you a false sense of security while the poison acts in the body. It is important to notify a health care professional immediately after exposure, whether or not you see symptoms.
A follow-up blood test may be done to confirm whether the child or pet is still at risk for toxicity. Since the anticoagulant effects are delayed, this test is done a few days after exposure. In the meantime, watch for skin bruising. Early antidote administration can successfully treat anticoagulant poisoning.
Other mouse bait products on the market are not as popular as anticoagulants but they are just as dangerous. They include vacor, yellow phosphorus, strychnine and arsenic.
With common sense and care you can protect children and pets from accidental poisoning by a rodenticide. Keep safety in mind when selecting, using and storing hazardous products around the home.
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