Pet owners have looked to the Food and Drug Administration for answers to why thousands of dogs and several cats were becoming ill after ingesting jerky treats manufactured in China. Approximately 580 of the 3,6000 dogs and 10 cats who became ill died after eating the treats.
After years of futile investigations, the FDA is now asking for help from the public since first getting complaints starting in 2007.
Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine states, "This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered. Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it."
The implicated treats were made of chicken, duck and sweet potatoes with most being made in China. Nestle Purina's Waggin' Train, Canyon Creek Ranch treats and Del Monte's Milo's Kitchen products were pulled after trace amounts of a banned antibiotic were detected, but officials state that the amounts were unlikely to cause illness.
Initial symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or increased urination. As the sickness progresses, symptoms related to ingesting the jerky treats included gastrointestinal, urinary and kidney symptoms. Some cases may be severe enough to include severe cases of gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney failure. Approximately 60% of reported cases had gastrointestinal complaints and 30% were kidney/urinary issues.
In spite of the efforts of the FDA's ongoing investigation, they have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause. Over 1,200 tests have been made determine what has caused the illnesses. Tests include checks for Salmonella, metals, pesticides and other poisons. Several production plants in China have also been visited by FDA officials, but inspections were inconclusive. The ingredient supply chain is next on the list for investigations to find a cause.
In the meantime, the FDA is asking for information from pet owners who suspect that their pets became ill after eating tainted jerky treats. The Food and Drug Administration should be contacted immediately if you suspect your pet is a victim.