Rodenticide Toxicity Clinical Presentation
- Author: Derrick Lung, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Asim Tarabar, MD more...
Many of the patients presenting with rodenticide ingestions are children who ingest such substances unintentionally and, thus, usually ingest small quantities. The literature relating to such ingestions is prone to the bias that ingestion may not have actually occurred or that it has occurred at such a low dose as to be inconsequential. Thus, determining the treatment of a child based on published literature is potentially dangerous.
Adults who ingest such substances are most likely attempting suicide; however, poisoning homicides may occur with these agents because of their ready availability. Surreptitious poisoning may occur from exposure to adulterated or contaminated drugs of abuse. The presence of anticoagulation may represent Munchausen syndrome.
Common presenting symptoms after exposure to long-acting anticoagulants include the following:
Flank pain with or without frank hematuria
Excess bleeding or bruising after relatively minor or no apparent trauma
An organophosphate rodenticide known as TresPasitos, made with the chemical aldicarb and sold illegally in the United States, has been used primarily by Hispanic individuals. People who ingest this toxin may present with symptoms of acetyl cholinesterase inhibition.
Additional presentations of rodenticide exposure include the following:
Barium - May cause headache, weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, or shortness of breath
PNU - May cause complaints of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or dizziness
Thallium - Exposed individuals may report acute GI distress and subsequent anorexia, myalgias, painful neuropathy, and hair loss
Strychnine - May cause anxiety, muscle twitching, or uncontrolled facial grimacing
Zinc phosphide - Inhalation leads to marked shortness of breath as pulmonary edema develops
Arsenic - High doses cause nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and garlic taste in the mouth
Verifying the specific rodenticide is important. In the United States, the rodenticide is most likely an anticoagulant. Quite a few of the other rodenticides have been used over the years but are currently not popular.
Anticoagulant rodenticides rarely produce symptoms at all; when they do, however, symptoms are usually delayed. Evidence of frank bleeding, bruising, or other coagulopathy may be present if a significant exposure has occurred. The presence of petechiae under a blood pressure cuff may alert the nursing staff or ED physician to such coagulopathy.
Characteristic odors are associated with certain rodenticides.
PNU - Odor of peanuts
Zinc phosphide - Smells of rotting fish
Organophosphates, such as Tres Pasitos - Smell like garlic
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