UGA labs conduct testing for FDA’s pet food surveillance program

(Athens, Ga.) — The University of Georgia Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, located in Athens and Tifton, are collaborating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network to evaluate diagnostic samples from companion animals in suspect cases of exposure to contaminated foods or drugs, to help protect human and animal health.

On May 16, 2014, the FDA released an update to its ongoing investigation into pet illnesses and deaths associated with jerky pet treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. Since 2007, the FDA has investigated over 4,800 reports of pet illnesses related to consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats. As of May 1, 2014, more than 5,600 dog cases, 24 cat cases, 3 human cases, and more than 1,000 canine deaths have been reported. So far, no specific cause has been determined for these illnesses. For more information click here.

Investigation

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine is partnering with other government agencies, such as the CDC, and member laboratories of the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), such as the Georgia Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, to investigate jerky pet treat illnesses nationwide. In this regard, we will conduct FDA-approved and FDA-paid testing on jerky pet treats, animal specimens, or entire pet carcasses as part of the investigation. If you suspect your pet has become ill as a result of eating jerky pet treats, report the case through the FDA Safety Reporting Portal (or call the FDA at 1.240.276.9300). You must obtain FDA pre-approval prior to submitting suspect jerky pet treats, sick animal samples, or dead animals to us through your veterinarian.

What to look for in your pet

Pets that have consumed potentially contaminated jerky treats 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.

Information to be provided to the FDA and/or to your veterinarian should include
  • The signs exhibited by your pet after eating the treats
  • Lot number(s) of the specific suspect jerky treat(s).
  • How long you have been feeding the treat.
  • When is the last time and in what form (entire piece or broken) you fed the treat to your dog?
  • What else the pet has been eating (all treats, human food, and pet food), including how much is given daily of all items.
Samples and testing that can be conducted by the UGA Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories AFTER FDA approval
  • Feces: for Salmonella testing.
  • Urine: for conducting routine urine analysis and to freeze one sub-sample (to be used in case of follow-up).
  • Blood: for routine blood work for liver and kidney injury.
  • Sample of the jerky treat consumed by the patient (both opened and unopened samples, if possible).
  • Entire carcass for autopsy if the patient dies.
Veterinarians or pet owners with questions may call our labs
  • The Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: 706.542.5568
  • The Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic and Investigational Laboratory: 229.386.3340