Similar events were also reported at vet clinics in Michigan in 2006 and in Iowa in 2007.
The CDC says many other cases might go undetected. "Because symptoms might only last a few hours and can resolve without medical treatment, victims might never associate symptoms with poisoning," the researchers said.
For now, the agency recommends that pet owners use products containing zinc phosphide as directed or, better yet, try alternate means of eliminating burrowing rodents such as snap traps. And in cases where pets are suspected of becoming sick by ingesting the pellets, veterinarians should always induce vomiting outdoors to disperse any toxic fumes.
Veterinary staff treating horses with phosphine poisoning have also become sick, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which issued guidelines this year for vets regarding phosphine products. Besides rodent bait, these include aluminum phosphide, an insecticide used to fumigate grains and animal feed.
The findings on dogs were published in the April 27 issue of the CDC's journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The ASPCA has more on what to do if you think your pet has been poisoned.
-- E.J. Mundell
SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 27, 2012
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