Oct 23, 2013 9:37 AM by Maddie Garrett
The Food and Drug Administration is asking for the public's help in solving a mystery illness being linked to jerky treats. The FDA says almost 600 pets have died, almost all of them dogs, and nearly 4,000 have become ill after eating jerky treats since 2007.
Scientists thought they had pinpointed the problem, focusing on an antibiotic residue in the treats. But now they say they don't think that's the source, and are asking for pet owners and veterinarians to help.
The FDA is appealing to vets to track and send detailed information about any animals sickened by the jerky treats, which have been recalled. The recalled jerky treats are Nestle Purina PetCare Co.'s Waggin Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats, and Del Monte Corp.'s Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers.
The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine has run more than 1,200 tests, visited pet treat manufacturing plants in China and worked with researchers, state labs and foreign governments but hasn't determined the exact cause of the illness, the FDA statement said.
"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," said Bernadette Dunham, a veterinarian and head of the FDA vet medicine center.
Pets can suffer from a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting and diarrhea among other symptoms within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes or dried fruit.
Severe cases have involved kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder, the FDA said. Most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China.
The FDA has issued previous warnings. A number of jerky pet treat products were removed from the market in January after a New York state lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China. The FDA said that while the levels of the drugs were very low and it was unlikely that they caused the illnesses, there was a decrease in reports of jerky-suspected illnesses after the products were removed from the market. FDA believes that the number of reports may have declined simply because fewer jerky treats were available.