An Oklahoma woman was arrested in Pennsylvania on Thursday and charged with the neglect of her seven children. Among the allegations against her are that she used flea and tick treatment to treat her children’s head lice and treated them with cattle wormer.
Sonia Kubisak is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), which discovered the 34-year-old mother and her seven children living in tents in the woods of Pushmataha County. Agents who discovered the campsite described it as “covered with used toilet paper [and] human feces.” Agents also noted sacks of animal feed which had rotted and a make-do shower which had been built on the site. They described the site as having a “strong, putrid odor.”
During an interview with agents, Kubisak allegedly confessed to medicating her children with cattle wormer. She also used Frontline flea and tick medication, a substance marketed and intended for use on dogs and cats, to rid them of head lice.
Cattle wormer, or dewormer, is an antihelminthic drug used to either stun or kill parasites such as flukes, roundworm and tapeworm, which reside in the body. Once the parasites are stunned or killed, they can then be expelled from the body. The medication is indicated for livestock and normally does not pose a threat to animals being treated. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs advises that drugs such as these be given only by a veterinarian, and that anyone handling the medication should avoid its contact with the skin; bathe or wash hands after handling the medication; change clothing after treating livestock with the chemical; and avoid eating or smoking when handling the medication.
Frontline Plus contains a chemical called fipronil, which is considered a possible carcinogen to humans. It works by blocking the nerve pathway which prevents over-stimulation of the nervous system in humans and insects, and is considered toxic to the human nervous system. Fipronil poisoning can cause a multitude of symptoms in humans ranging from agitation to vomiting to seizures. If fipronil is exposed to the sun, it breaks down into a chemical compound which is many times more potent.
She and the children, aged 7 to 17, lived in tents on the Oklahoma campsite for approximately five months beginning around March 1 of this year. The investigation began in July after the Pushmataha County District Attorney’s Office asked the OSBI to assist the sheriff’s office with their investigation of Kubisak amid claims that she was neglecting the children. A nurse practitioner in the area who had examined the children found that they exhibited the types of illness commonly found in neglected and malnourished children, which prompted her to contact the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Seven charges of felony child neglect against Kubisak were filed on Dec. 17, and she was taken into custody in Tionesta, Pa., on Thursday. Authorities have not released the reason why she traveled to Pennsylvania and have not indicated the reason why she and the children were living in the squalid conditions of the campsite. She will remain in the Warren County Jail until she is extradited to Oklahoma. The OSBI says the children are currently in protective custody full-time.
By Jennifer Pfalz