State officials urge caution with rat poison as pests head indoors to avoid the cold

In the last few years, the Illinois Poison Center has received an average of almost one call per day about someone ingesting poison, with rodent bait being the most common. (Photo courtesy: Illinois Poison Control/Facebook)

By Illinois Radio Network

SPRINGFIELD – Poison control officials want people to be cautious in how they use poison as the weather turns cooler and mice and rats seek out warmer places.

In the past few years, the Illinois Poison Center has “fielded 325 exposures related to rodent poison; 321 exposures in 2017 and 327 exposures in 2016. Nationally more than 9,000 exposures were managed by poison control centers last year,” with rodent bait being the most common.

“Rodent bait is commonly left unattended and unsecured, increasing the likelihood of exposure to it,” said Dr. Michael Wahl, medical director for the Illinois Poison Center.

It’s often pets and children, not rats, that find the poison first.

“Most of these exposures involve kids crawling around on the ground, exploring and end up ingesting rat poison that way,” said Carol DesLauriers, assistant vice president of the Illinois Poison Center.

The IPC recommended cleaning up the area, sealing off structures and using sticky traps in places where kids or pets may be present.

“Those aren’t poisonous and if you’ve got children or pets, that could be a type of middle-ground before you get to the hard stuff,” DesLauriers said.

DesLauriers said parents should call the Illinois Poison Center at 800-222-1222 if they suspect a child or pet may have consumed rat poison, possibly saving a costly trip to the emergency room.

The Illinois Poison Center offered tips for dealing rodents:

Identify the rodent. Not all rodents respond to the same pest control methods;
Inspect your home and seal any cracks and crevices;
Keep your landscaping trimmed and clutter-free;
Remove plastic and cardboard containers which are easy for rodents to chew through.
Determine your rodent removal approach.

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