Zinc Phosphide and Secondary Poisoning
Zinc phosphide is a non-anticoagulant toxicant used to control rodents in agricultural and structural settings. A key advantage with this toxicant, other than it being a non-anticoagulant, is its quick killing action. Though its primary toxicity is quite high, it’s secondary poisoning risk is lower because the toxicant is metabolized rather than accumulated in the animal’s liver like other toxicants.
However, an event in England suggests that zinc phosphide presents some risks heretofore under recognized. The story as found at http://www.ksee24.com/news/local/Poisoned-Dogs-Vomit-Sends-Several-to-Hospital-182854181.html explains that a dog ate some zinc phosphide tablets. It was taken to the veterinary clinic where it vomited. The resulting fumes appeared to have sickened nearby staff. It is theorized that the toxic fumes came from the vomit that contained un-dissolved zinc phosphide.
This phenomena has been mentioned by Greg Cima in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association; 6/1/2010, Vol. 236 Issue 11, p1161-1161, 1p.
Use zinc phosphide carefully and in accordance with the label. Use tamper-resistant bait stations whenever possible. Pick up and dispose of poisoned rodents properly, as the undigested tablets in the stomach of poisoned animals may still pose risk of releasing gas. Phosphine gas (the gas released from Zinc phosphide) is highly toxic. Avoid exposure. Use caution when cutting open the stomachs of animals poisoned by zinc phosphide. Vomit from animals with suspected zinc phosphide poisoning should be avoided. Leave the room immediately, leaving doors and windows open.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
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