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Dog's vomit hospitalizes 4 with rat poison fumes

A dog's vomit at a Colo. veterinary clinic sent four people to the hospital over the weekend, rescue workers said.

The dog had reportedly swallowed rat poison before coming into Steve's Dog & Cat Repair Veterinary Clinic in Edwards, Colo. Once in the clinic, the dog vomited which gave off toxic fumes that caused respiratory problems for at least three people in the immediate vicinity who were then sent to the hospital, while a fourth person was hospitalized as a precaution.

The dog expelled the toxic vomit the after being brought to the clinic on Friday, the Vail Daily reported

The Eagle River Fire Protection District said on its Facebook page Saturday that the chemical involved was likely zinc phosphide, which it said was a commercially available pesticide used to eliminate rodents.

Symptoms of those exposed included burning of the throat, tightness of the chest and difficulty breathing, according to the fire district.

When zinc phosphide used in rodenticides mixes with water and stomach acids, it produces a highly toxic gas called phosphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In April 2012, the CDC released a study in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report journal that showed government agencies received reports of poisonings at four different U.S. veterinary hospitals from 2006 through 2011: two in Michigan, one in Iowa and one in Washington. Eight poisonings occurred from the four events.

Other health risks from inhaling the toxic gas include damage to heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and nervous system which can be fatal. However for most non-fatal cases, symptoms usually go away within thirty days and rarely cause long-term problems.

Anyone else who was at the veterinary clinic who has symptoms is urged to seek medical attention. The Eagle River Fire Protection District said it is not known where the dog ingested the pesticide.

"Unfortunately the dog did not survive and our condolences go out to the dog's family," the Eagle River Fire Protection District said on its Facebook page.