Almost 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have been sickened in a continuous, unexplainable outbreak of illnesses tied to jerky treats made in China, federal animal health officials said last week.
The majority of the cases have been in dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes after consuming chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats. The rate of the documented illnesses seems to have slowed down, nevertheless federal Food and Drug Administration officials are now looking for extra help from vets and pet owners in resolving the ongoing puzzle.
“To date, testing for contaminants in jerky treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses,” Martine Hartogensis, a deputy director for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in the new report. “Despite these warnings, we have continued to receive reports of illnesses in both cats and dogs.”
The new numbers are up from some 500 deaths and 3,200 illnesses tallied in January, but the pace of reports has decreased dramatically since that time, mainly due to the fact 2 of the largest sellers of pet jerky treats announced recalls linked to the existence of unapproved antibiotic residue detected in the products.
In case a dog does become sick after consuming the treats, FDA is requesting owners to give in depth details — up to and including results of a necropsy to test an animal’s tissues after death.
Meanwhile, officials are attempting to reach pet owners who might still have treats on hand to ensure they be aware of the potential issues.
“Right now, the focus for us is to make the public aware that these cases are still coming in,” she said.
Pet owners can report problems with jerky treats at the FDA’s consumer safety portal.