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Jerky treats recall prompted by pet illnesses, deaths

The FDA has urged pet owners and veterinarians around the U.S. to send in any information that could help them solve the mysterious illnesses related to jerky treats.

By Veronica Linares
Jerky treats recall prompted by pet illnesses, deaths
UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

(UPI) -- The Food and Drug Administration is asking for help from pet owners around the United States to solve the mysterious outbreak of illnesses related to jerky treats.

About 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. have been sickened with jerky-related illnesses since 2007 and 580 pets have died.

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The treats are sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit. And while most of the products were made in China, pet food manufacturers are not bound by U.S. law to list their ingredients' country of origin.

"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," veterinarian Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement.

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The FDA is turning to pet owners and veterinarians to try to solve the problem. The agency is asking anyone who has witnessed the illness firsthand to call the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state.

Known symptoms include decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water drinking and increased urination within hours of eating the treats.

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Around 60 percent of the jerky-related issues involved gastrointestinal illness and about 30 percent involved kidney and urinary systems. The remaining cases involved a variety of symptoms, such as collapse, convulsions or skin issues.

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Additionally, the FDA urged pet owners to stop giving treats immediately if a pet becomes sick after eating them as well as to keep the treats in a sealed container for analysis.

Pet owners and veterinarians were urged to send in any materials -- including the pet's blood or the sickening treats -- to help with the investigation.

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