Rat Poisoning In Humans: Symptoms and Treatment

We often hear people compare different types of liquids (typically strong liquor) to rat poison. This whiskey is rat poison, that bourbon is rat poison, and so on. But what actually does this infamous substance include and can rat poison kill you? Here are the main rat poison symptoms and our treatment suggestions.

Rat poisoning in humans works on the same principle it does in rats but it thankfully takes a much higher dose due to our size and mass difference.

Typically, most types of rat poison use common blood thinner chemicals to kill the little vermin so the rat poison effects on humans are what you’d expect from ingesting a large amount of a strong blood thinner medications.

As a blood thinner, rat poison is typically safe to the physical touch (although, as always, we’d recommend that you use gloves), however, it becomes truly dangerous once it’s ingested. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pesticide poisoning was actually the 10th biggest poisoning cause in the U.S. in 2011, responsible for roughly 40,000 emergencies that year. In 2012, rodenticides accounted for 11% of pesticide poisonings. By 2017, out of approximately 2 million poisoning events reported to the National Capital Poison Center, pesticides accounted for roughly 3.5% of events in both children and adults. 

Disclaimer!

This article was written for informational purposes only and in no shape or form is meant to constitute professional medical advice. If you suspect that you might be exhibiting symptoms of rat poisoning, don't wait and contact your doctor immediately. Alternatively, you can visit poison.org and get help from one of their qualified experts.

How does rat poison actually work?

For decades, the most common blood thinner in rat poison was warfarin. However, since rats have started to adapt and evolve resistance to warfarin, modern rat poisons use much more potent and powerful active ingredients such as Brodifacoum (often referred to as “super-warfarin”).

Such blood thinners work on the same principle but are much more concentrated, work faster, and are longer-lasting.

The way blood thinners such as Brodifacoum work is that they reduce the Vitamin K in the body which reduces its blood clotting abilities. In a small degree, this is often a beneficial thing for people who are at risk of blood clotting, but if the blood clotting ability of the body is reduced too much internal bleedings can occur.

Of course, there are also other types of chemicals that can constitute a rat poison. Zinc phosphide, which can still be found in certain retail stores, can cause cough, difficulty breathing, pulmonary edema, cardiomyopathy, shock, and other very serious health problems. Strychnine is another infamous rat poison active ingredient. It is usually only approved for use by trained personnel, as it can cause convulsions, breathing paralysis, and some very dangerous health risks. But the most standard types of rat poison that are approved for residential use, however, use blood thinners such as Brodifacoum or other variations of warfarin.

Rat poisoning symptoms

Depending on your body mass and the amount of rat poison you’ve ingested (as well as depending on its potency), symptoms can take between several hours and even a couple of days to start presenting themselves. That’s why the first thing you might and should notice is if you find problems with the rat poison container. For example, you might notice that the rat poison container in your kitchen has spilled and potentially contaminated your food. Or, you might notice that your child or pet has moved some of the furniture behind which you had placed rat poison and might have reached it and consumed it.

Observations such as these can save you valuable time and help you start acting even before the rat poisoning symptoms have started presenting themselves. However, if you miss these signs or if they were just not there to be noticed, you’ll eventually start noticing some physical symptoms which include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Nosebleeds despite the lack of any physical trauma in the nose
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Bleeding gums despite the lack of any physical trauma in the mouth
  • Bloody diarrhea (hematochezia)
  • Fatigue
  • A myriad of more serious symptoms that will indicate that the poisoning is reaching its later and most dangerous stages: seizures, heart attack, respiratory difficulties, liver failure, shock, internal bleedings, or coma

Rat poisoning treatments

Hoping that we will suggest some simple rat poison antidote that will miraculously cure you of rat poisoning? Well, we will have to disappoint you.

If you think that you have been exposed to rat poison our advice is for you to get to a doctor as soon as possible. Or contact one of the qualified National Capital Poison Center experts by visiting poison.org. They offer free and confidential expert guidance on matters related to poison exposure that you can get either by contacting them over the phone or via their online tool.

There are also things that you can do yourself too, if directed by a poison control specialist or doctor. You take Vitamin K to counteract the effects of the blood thinner in the rat poison. Activated charcoal or syrup of ipecac are also known remedies that are sold over the counter. However, if you do take any of these it should only be done as a containing measure while you’re trying to get to a medical professional (or you’re waiting for them to get to you).

Depending on the exact type of rat poison you or your family member has ingested, as well as on the precise nature of the damage it has caused already, the medical experts will determine what the best course of action is.

Rat poisoning prevention

This is the area where people should focus most of their efforts – making sure that you’re not one of the dozens of thousands of people who annually ingest rat poison. There are three typical ways in which adults, kids or pets can ingest rat poison:

  • If it has spilled in your food. This happens when people keep their food and their rat poison in the same or in neighboring cabinets. The easiest way to make sure that this doesn’t happen is if you just keep the rat poison far away from the kitchen or from any food ingredients, including pet food.
  • If the laid out rat poison is found and consumed by pets or by kids. This is a very common problem – regardless of how hard you try to hide the rat poison from your child or your dog, they can often find a way to get to it. Kids, in particular, can be very ingenious when it comes to getting to objects that have caught their eyes. To avoid this it’s recommended to only use rat poison in places where your kids and pets (and preferably innocent and non-pest wildlife) have zero access to and put the poison only in the best rat bait stations.
  • The third most common way to get rat poisoning is if the poison is consumed directly from the container. That’s also something that kids and pets can often do if they open the cabinet where you keep the rat poison and take interest in it. To avoid this, make sure that said cabinet is not only away from the kitchen and from any food supplies, but also that it is locked and child-proofed.

And, of course, you can simply rat-proof your house or opt for other rat-combating tools such as non-poisonous rat traps.

14 Comments

JOSEPHINE

I have mixed rat poison in the food and I ate on 2 days before for some personal reasons but nothing happened to me . Do I need to consult the doctor or not required.

    Karen

    You should absolutely, most definitely consult your doctor, even if two days have passed since you consumed the rat poison.

    Gayathri

    Mam my friend had rat poison 3 days back now she feels some fever or fatiguability at night time what should I do?? Need to go consultants ..

    InsectCop

    Your friend should see a doctor immediately. Rat poison is no joke and can have lethal consequences if consumed. Good luck!

Sathya

Mam my friend drank rat poison.her liver was failure now. Wheather she can be cured???…doctor said that they goes to operate the liver..but it will works mam??

    Karen

    You will have to ask the doctor that. Sending thoughts and prayers to you and your friend.

Patty

My ex family put rat poison in my son’s food. They’ve been popping blood for two days & not feeling well. What do you think will happen next? I have no transportation to the doctor & we live way out in the sticks. What should I expect or prepare for?

    Karen

    You should get medical help immediately! Ingesting a rat poison (as well as the symptoms described) is a serious matter, which should be treated as a medical emergency! I hope at this point you have already called 911 or sought some professional help, cause in this situation the worst-case scenario would be death. Good luck!

Lily

I took mdma 3 weeks ago and there might be a chance it was laced with rat poison. I have had heart burn and been short of breath for a week now, is it possible for rat poison to effect you 3 weeks later?

    InsectCop

    Depending on things like your body mass, the amount of rat poison you’ve ingested, what type of rat poison it was and other factors symptoms can appear even several days after ingestion. But if you have even the slightest suspicion that you might have ingested rat poison and are exhibiting symptoms because of it contact your doctor as soon as you can. They will be able to give you advice on what to do.

Person

What the hell are you supposed to do if your dr wont be bothered to help you or take you seriously??? My boyfriend had someone put rat poison in sonething he ate or drank he doesnt know but he knows it was rat poison… He called the ambulance and when he dkdnt know what it was they said they couldnt do anything for him, he went to the hospotol a few hours later and they just treated him like a drug addict and tested his blood and sent him home, said he “just needed sleep” and two days later (last night) he went again because he started feeling disoriented and hot and all the symltoms again, and they wouldnt help him again kr listen to him…. They just treated him like he was crazy… Wtf is he supposed to do? Im really worried and dont know how to help him….

    InsectCop

    Is there any chance you could go to another hospital or see other doctors? We can’t really give you advice on a subject that’s such a serious medical matter. If there is no such option, try contacting Poison Control for advice. But I have to admit, the attitude towards your boyfriend does sound absurd and rather unprofessional.

Suhail azahat

My friend ate the rat poison two months before now he has pimpples on face increase day by day with ichingn pain in pimpples so what should we do.

    InsectCop

    Your friend should go see a doctor.

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