Sick pets prompt US probe of Chinese treats
PET treats imported mostly from China are sickening and killing dogs and cats in the United States, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it wants to know why.
On Wednesday, the US government agency said that since 2007, a reported 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have come down with "jerky-pet-treat-related illnesses" - of which approximately 580 have died.
To gather more information, the FDA urged consumers to report potential cases promptly. It also asked vets to forward blood, urine and tissue samples for analysis.
"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," said Ms Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA's veterinary-medicine unit.
"Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort."
Jerky treats are made with chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and dried fruit. But, under US law, pet-food manufacturers do not have to declare the country of origin for each ingredient.
"Most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China," FDA said, adding that it has visited Chinese jerky-treat manufacturers as part of its ongoing effort to get to the root of the problem.
It urged pet owners to be cautious with jerky treats and to look out for symptoms such as decreased appetite or activity, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased water consumption or increased urination.
In January, several jerky treats were pulled from the US market after very low levels of up to six drugs were discovered in certain made-in-China samples at a laboratory in New York state.
In 2007, after several dogs and cats fell ill and died, the FDA found contaminants in pet-food ingredients imported from China, triggering a major pet-food recall in the US and elsewhere.