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Toxicol Rev. 2005;24(4):259-69.

Anticoagulant rodenticides.

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National Poisons Information Service (Birmingham Centre), City Hospital, Birmingham, UK.


Anticoagulant pesticides are used widely in agricultural and urban rodent control. The emergence of warfarin-resistant strains of rats led to the introduction of a new group of anticoagulant rodenticides variously referred to as 'superwarfarins', 'single dose' or 'long-acting'. This group includes the second generation 4-hydroxycoumarins brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, flocoumafen and the indanedione derivatives chlorophacinone and diphacinone. Most cases of anticoagulant rodenticide exposure involve young children and, as a consequence, the amounts ingested are almost invariably small. In contrast, intentional ingestion of large quantities of long-acting anticoagulant rodenticides may cause anticoagulation for several weeks or months. Occupational exposure has also been reported. Anticoagulant rodenticides inhibit vitamin K(1)-2,3 epoxide reductase and thus the synthesis of vitamin K and subsequently clotting factors II, VII, IX and X. The greater potency and duration of action of long-acting anticoagulant rodenticides is attributed to their: (i) greater affinity for vitamin K(1)-2,3-epoxide reductase; (ii) ability to disrupt the vitamin K(1)-epoxide cycle at more than one point; (iii) hepatic accumulation; and (iv) unusually long biological half-lives due to high lipid solubility and enterohepatic circulation. Substantial ingestion produces epistaxis, gingival bleeding, widespread bruising, haematomas, haematuria with flank pain, menorrhagia, gastrointestinal bleeding, rectal bleeding and haemorrhage into any internal organ; anaemia may result. Spontaneous haemoperitoneum has been described. Severe blood loss may result in hypovolaemic shock, coma and death. The first clinical signs of bleeding may be delayed and patients may remain anticoagulated for several days (warfarin) or days, weeks or months (long-acting anticoagulants) after ingestion of large amounts. There are now sufficient data in young children exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides to conclude that routine measurement of the international normalised ratio (INR) is unnecessary. In all other cases, the INR should be measured 36-48 hours post exposure. If the INR is normal at this time, even in the case of long-acting formulations, no further action is required. If active bleeding occurs, prothrombin complex concentrate (which contains factors II, VII, IX and X) 50 units/kg, or recombinant activated factor VII 1.2-4.8 mg or fresh frozen plasma 15 mL/kg (if no concentrate is available) and phytomenadione 10mg intravenously (100 microg/kg bodyweight for a child) should be given. If there is no active bleeding and the INR is < or =4.0, no treatment is required; if the INR is > or =4.0 phytomenadione 10mg should be administered intravenously.

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