Mistletoe, holly and poinsettia are emblematic plants for the holiday season: they are made into wreaths, used to decorate the house and the Christmas table… But be careful, as theNational Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Anses) in a recent press release, the leaves and berries of these plants are toxic to humans and animals…
Each year, poison control centers receive between 60 and 80 calls concerning children under 15 who have accidentally put holly berries… More toxic than the leaves, holly berries can cause sometimes serious symptoms (significant salivation, vomiting and persistent diarrhoea, even drowsiness or convulsions) when more than one or two are ingested.
Pets (cats and dogs, for example) can also be sick after eating holly berries: digestive symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) or even neurological symptoms (drowsiness, coma, etc.) can be observed.
Warning: do not give water to a child who has eaten a toxic plant!
The mistletoe leaves are more toxic than the berries: in the event of significant ingestion, cardiac symptoms (heart rhythm disorders, drop in blood pressure, etc.) or neurological symptoms (drowsiness, etc.) may be observed.
Finally, the pretty poinsettias can also be dangerous for health: in children, putting a leaf in the mouth can lead to minor digestive symptoms (vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.). In domestic animals, the chewing of several leaves or stems can have much more serious consequences.
My child has swallowed a holly berry, mistletoe or poinsettia leaf, what should I do? Clean the child’s mouth with a damp cloth and call a poison control centre: keep the label of the plant and/or its photo handy. Above all, do not make the child drink! If it is a pet, call a Veterinary Poison Control Center.
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