Poison ivy is not really poisonous. The plant contains a chemical called urushiol that causes an allergic reaction in most people. If you come in contact with poison ivy, and are sensitive to urushiol, you will probably develop a painful, blistering rash. It is possible to prevent the rash if you wash your skin thoroughly with soap and water, but you must do this as quickly as possible. Not all animals, however, are sensitive to poison ivy. Deer, rabbits and many birds eat the leaves and fruits without any ill effect. Urushiol is long-lasting and easily transferred around. So, if your dog brushed up against some poison ivy, and you touched him/her, you could very well have a reaction, without going anywhere near the plant yourself. Eradication of poison ivy by burning is not recommended, as inhalation of the smoke can cause serious lung injury. Avoidance is the best measure. Learn to identify poison ivy with the simple rhyme, “Leaves of three, let it be”!
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