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Baby Dies After Ingesting Rat Poison

The City of Cape Town on Wednesday warned of the dangers of using pesticides in the home following the conclusion of an investigation into the death of a 10-year-old boy in Khayelitsha who died after ingesting rat poison.

The City of Cape Town's Health Directorate called on residents to exercise extreme caution and read labels carefully when using store-bought pesticides.

The warning came following the conclusion of an investigation into the death of a 10-month-old baby boy who died as a result of ingesting rat poison in Khayelitsha.

The City Health's Environmental Health section is mandated to investigate all pesticide/chemical incidents.

According to the City, it is understood that the child was playing inside his home when he came into contact with the poison pellets which had been set out on a side-plate, hidden behind a cupboard.

Apparently the poison had been put out for rats, but the residents had forgotten about it. The baby's caregiver took him to the local hospital after he started vomiting, but he was declared dead on arrival.

“This is a truly heartbreaking incident and my thoughts and prayers are with the family. It is important that this baby's death not be in vain and so I appeal to parents to learn from this tragedy and ensure that they do everything possible to mitigate the risk of their children being exposed to pesticides.

“These incidents are not commonplace, but one death is one too many,” said the City's Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli.

During the 2014/15 financial year, City Health investigated six pesticide poisoning cases across the city.

Environmental Health Practitioners also conduct regular inspections of informal traders to root out the sale of very toxic pesticides that were being sold illegally.

These poisons often carried no label and thus no information about the ingredients, manufacturer, etc thus placing users, children, pets and the environment at risk, the City said.

“Pest control affects all of us and it is a problem that is difficult to handle, but it becomes even more challenging in conditions that are conducive to the proliferation of vermin. Rats and other pests thrive in areas where they have a steady supply of food, where there is harbourage, and in the absence of predators.

“I understand that not everyone is able to afford professional pest control services, but I would also caution against buying cheap and toxic products that are not correctly packaged or labelled. There have been instances of children drinking poisonous chemical substances that have been stored in plastic cooldrink bottles because they are stored within easy reach. I appeal to residents to buy only approved and legal pesticides and to use them with care, especially when they have children or pets in the home,” added Mamkeli. City Health offers a free rodent control service to members of poor communities that can be accessed by contacting their local Environmental Health Office or by leaving a rodent complaint at their local municipal clinic.

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