Rat poison killing children

Cape Town - A banned pesticide is being used in homes across Cape Town in a desperate attempt to quell the rising rat epidemic.

The highly toxic poison is being sold on the streets by informal traders as locals grow desperate to hamper the rodents.

The substance, known as "two step", is extrememly deadly and has claimed children&39;s lives.

However, it is cheap, effective and easily accesible.

The real name of the substance is Aldicarb -- a deadly agricultural insecticide.

It is usually mixed with grain or mielie pap and put in saucers to kill the rats and costs R6 for three strips.

University of Cape Town public health researcher Dr Andrea Rother has had the poison analysed.

"Just one strip is enough to kill six toddlers weighing 10 kilograms or less," she said.

Exposure to Aldicarb leads to symptoms such as weakness, nausea and tremors in humans.

High doses paralyse the respiratory system and even causes death.     

Zanele Gaqazele discovered the dangers of using the substance when her toddler woke up early one morning with a high fever.                                         

Thankfully the local clinic got him to the Red Cross Children&39;s Hospital in time.

Gaqazele said: "They asked me what did he eat, and I said he ate Weet-Bix that morning. And they said no, it&39;s not only Weet-Bix. There is something else."

They showed her pictures of posions and she identified two step.

The Department of Agriculture withdrew registration for Aldicarb in South Africa last year, but stockpiles may still be distributed until 2014.