UGA veterinary lab offers free testing for jerky-related illness and death

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UGA veterinary lab offers free testing for jerky-related illness and death

Lab partners with FDA in ongoing investigation into problematic treats from China.
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Nov 27, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

UGA veterinary lab offers free testing for jerky-related illness and death Lab partners with FDA in ongoing investigation into problematic treats from China.

The University of Georgia Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, in Athens and Tifton, Ga., are performing free tests and autopsies on any dogs or cats that die after consumption of jerky treats. The lab, a part of the College of Veterinary Medicine at UGA, is working in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network.

The FDA has called on veterinarians to provide samples to assist in its ongoing investigation into pet illnesses and deaths associated with jerky pet treats sourced from China. Since 2007, the agency has investigated more than 3,000 reports of pet illnesses related to consumption of jerky treats and, as of Sept. 24, more than 580 deaths have been reported. Despite years of testing, identification of a cause is still elusive.

The UGA labs will test sick animal samples as well as suspect jerky treats for potential bacterial pathogens. The tests and autopsies will be performed at no cost as long as the criteria outlined below are met.

Required for free testing:

> Animal species: Dogs and cats.

> Timeline: Must have consumed jerky treats 7 to 21 days ago.

> Type of treat: Treats made from chicken, duck, sweet potato or dried fruit or combinations of these ingredients.

> Clinical signs: In about 60 percent of cases, gastrointestinal signs such as anorexia, vomiting and diarrhea; in about 30 percent of cases, urinary distress including polydipsia, polyuria and Fanconi syndrome; and in about 10 percent of cases, other signs such as convulsions, tremors, hives and skin irritation.

Information to be collected by clinicians in addition to general case history:

> Lot numbers of the specific suspect jerky treats.

> How long the owner had been feeding the treat.

> How the owner gave the treat or food to the pet—was it an entire piece or broken?

> What else the pet had been eating—all treats, human food and pet food—including how much was given daily of all items.

Pets that have consumed potentially contaminated food or drugs may exhibit the following symptoms within hours to several days following consumption: decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and increased urination.

Samples to submit include:

> Feces: For pathogenic bacteria culture.

> Urine: For conducting routine urine analysis and to freeze one subsample—to be used in case of follow-up.

> Blood: For routine blood work for liver and kidney injury.

> Jerky treat sample: Sample of the treat consumed by the patient—both opened and unopened samples, if possible.

> Entire carcass: For autopsy if the patient is dead.

Veterinarians with testing questions should call the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at 706-542-5568 or the Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic and Investigational Laboratory at 229-386-3340.