Rat poison just got a whole lot more dangerous.
Bromethalin causes swelling of the brain (cerebral edema) leading to lethargy (inactivity), ataxia (unstable walking), pupils that may be both unresponsive to light and different sizes, loss of consciousness, tremors (shaking), seizures and death. Once significant brain swelling occurs treatment may be futile, as the damage may be irreversible.
As if that were not enough bad news, the onset of action of bromethalin is very rapid. Therefore, the time between ingestion and initiation of treatment must be very short if the patient is to be saved.
And, that danger is the same for children as for pets. And wildlife.
Bromethalin, a rodenticide that works by attacking the nervous system, has no antidote. There is no specific treatment. There is no laboratory test for this mouse poison. Your pet’s doctor’s response is limited to evacuation of the toxin (inducing vomiting) and symptomatic, supportive therapy, including IV fluids, diuretics and osmotics that can reduce brain swelling and anticonvulsants if seizures occur.
Bromethalin looks a lot like brodifacoum, an anticoagulant rodenticide. Both are extruded pellets and both are green. Bromethalin is a darker, turquoise color and brodifacoum is a bright green.
The names even look a little bit alike to the untrained.
Because brodifacoum is a long-acting anticoagulant (LAAC), poisoning by ingesting it can be treated with medications to allow the blood to clot again (to read more about brodifacoum click here). Transfusions can also be utilized in patients with severe blood loss.
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.