updated 5/4/2006 5:48:54 PM ET 2006-05-04T21:48:54

A waterproofing boot spray has sickened nearly 200 people and more than two dozen pets in the Midwest since early last year, health officials said Thursday.

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No one died, but people in five states reported coughing and breathing problems, and more than 80 went to hospitals. A 69-year-old Michigan man was put on a ventilator and hospitalized for 19 days, said Susan Smolinske of the regional poison control center at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

Three housecats died after exposure to the aerosol products, Smolinske said.

Most of the cases were linked to two Canadian products — Jobsite Heavy Duty Bootmate and Rocky Boot Weather and Stain Protector. Both are manufactured by Assured Packaging of Mississauga, Ontario.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed the investigation this week in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"We're absolutely sure it's the products that caused these illnesses," said Smolinske, lead author of the MMWR article.

Company officials did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment. When a reporter offered to forward the CDC report, an employee declined to provide e-mail addresses.

Don't use products indoors
In more than half the cases, the products were sprayed indoors. But shoes and boots sprayed in garages or outdoors still caused illness when they were brought indoors as the product evaporated, investigators found.

The boot sprays were pulled from all U.S. store shelves in January, after the Michigan Department of Community Health asked a product distributor to issue a recall. However, some people may still have the products in their homes and more may become ill, Smolinske said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into the boot sealant products and the illness reports. Health officials are continuing to test the product and investigate what chemical might have caused the illnesses.

Health officials have reports of illnesses in 185 humans and 29 animals. Most of the cases were in Michigan, with others in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky.

The cases were reported to hospital-based poison control centers. The first reports were in February 2005 but cases still are coming in, Smolinske said. The Assured Packaging products were first marketed in 2004, she said.

All but 23 of the case reports were tied to the Assured Packaging. In 21, the consumer couldn't recall what product they had used, and two cases were linked to a product by another manufacturer, she said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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