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Jerky treats recall: FDA seeks help in mystery deaths of 580 dogs and cats

Jerky treats recall: A recall in January has reduced reports of pet deaths, but the FDA is still trying to find out why 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill from eating jerky treats.

Jerky treats mystery illness for pets
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The Food and Drug Administration is appealing to dog and cat owners for information as it struggles to solve a mysterious outbreak of illness and deaths among pets that ate jerky treats.

In a notice to consumers and veterinarians published Tuesday, the agency said it has linked illnesses from jerky pet treats to 3,600 dogs and 10 cats since 2007. About 580 of those pets have died.

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 still hasn't determined the exact cause of the illness, the FDA statement said.

More than 1,200 jerky pet treat samples have been tested since 2011 for a variety of chemical and microbiological contaminants, from antibiotics to metals, pesticides and Salmonella. DNA testing has also been conducted, along with tests for nutritional composition.

"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," Bernadette Dunham, a veterinarian and head of the FDA vet medicine center, said in the statement.

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 said.

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