A Boston terrier named Toby died in 2012 after his owners say he got sick from chicken jerky pet treats that were made in China, and so far the jerky treat mystery is still unsolved with nearly 600 pets dead.
Over 3,600 have become extremely ill in an unending, mysterious illness outbreak which is linked to jerky treats prepared in China, federal animal health officials stated on Tuesday.
The majority of cases have been in all different breeds of dogs, but there have been a few reports of cats getting sick as well, after they were fed chicken, sweet potato and duck jerky treats. The rate of the reported ailments seems to have slowed somewhat, but Food and Drug Administration representatives are now asking for extra help from veterinarians and pet owners in aiding to solve the mystery.
So far, in testing for poisons in the jerky treats, there has been no cause found for the illnesses. But despite these findings, reports are still coming in of illnesses in both dogs and cats.
The newest numbers reported are about 500 deaths and 3,200 illnesses totaled in January, but that illness amount has dropped sharply since then, mainly because the two largest pet jerky treats sellers have stated they are doing recalls which are linked to the existence of some sort of antibiotic residue which they have found in the jerky.
FDA representatives do not believe the antibiotic remainder is the problem that has bewildered the agency since 2007. This is when pet owners began reporting their pets were suffering from intestinal and kidney difficulties after eating the popular treats.
The FDA still is as uncertain as it has ever been about the true cause of the problem that has led to these illnesses and deaths in animals that ate jerky treats.
There is extensive testing of treats being done and the FDA feels it has found some leads, but they still have a ways to go before this mystery is solved.
In an open letter to United Stated veterinarians, FDA spokespersons are asking the vets to track and send any information they might get about any animals that become ill by jerky treats, which means collecting blood results, and urine tests. The agency also is asking vets to mail in urine samples from any ill pets so the examples can be analyzed by the FDA itself.
Performing its own testing will give the FDA a better idea of how many of the alleged cases involve kidney or urinary disease.
The FDA wants people to know that such treats are not necessary for a balanced diet, but the warnings do fall short of a total jerky recall. The agency is still authenticating tests to identify the similar kind of antibiotic residue that New York representatives discovered earlier this year.
Because there has been no official recall of the jerky treats, it is not feasible to list all possible affected brands, though an earlier FDA examination indicated that some of the top-selling jerky treat brands sold in the U.S. were cited in connection with causing the animals to become sick or die.
This information does not go well with dog owner Robin Pierre who lives in New York. She believes that a certain type of chicken jerky treats are the reason behind the sudden death in 2011 of her formerly healthy pug, Bella. The dog went into sudden kidney failure. Pierre has long been after the FDA to crack down on the jerky manufacturers.
If someone’s pet becomes sick after eating these kind of treats, the FDA is requesting pet owners to provide comprehensive information, including necropsy results if one is performed so the tissue of the animal can be tested after its death.
At the same time, the FDA is attempting to reach pet owners who might still have any jerky treats to get rid of them because of the possible problems. With this jerky treat mystery going on and nearly 600 pets being dead, keeping the treats around is a risk not worth taking.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble