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Although intended to kill rodents, all rodenticides are potentially toxic to other mammals including humans. Many different compounds have been used to poison rodents throughout history, but the introduction of governmental regulations has curtailed the most toxic substances in favor of new agents with reduced environmental impact. Unfortunately, access to global markets can introduce foreign or previously banned products into regulated markets resulting in unexpected poisonings. There is no way to reliably identify a rodenticide based on its color, shape, or size, and mistakenly assuming that an unknown rodenticide is a commonly available product can lead to inappropriate treatment. Therefore, it is important to correctly identify the compound when formulating a treatment plan. Uncommonly, illicit drugs have been adulterated with rodenticides (eg, strychnine and long-acting anticoagulants).


The mechanism of action and usual onset of action of the various rodenticides are described briefly in Table II–55.


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