A rash of unexplained pet illnesses and deaths has prompted food safety regulators to request help from veterinarians.
More than 3,600 dogs have become sick after eating jerky treats since 2007. 580 of them have died. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not identified the exact cause of the outbreak, USA TODAY notes.
The agency is asking veterinarians to conduct more tests on the blood, urine and tissue of sickened animals. The government will pay for the additional tests.
Regulators called the problem “one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered.” They have sent inspectors to Chinese jerky producers but say they cannot trace all of the ingredients used in jerky production.
Pet owners are advised to “be cautious about providing jerky treats” to dogs or cats and seek medical treatment immediately for any pets showing signs of illness.
Dogs are overwhelmingly affected by the outbreak — only ten cats have been sickened so far. Reports indicate that afflicted pets show signs of illness — including diarrhea, vomiting and lost appetite — just hours after consuming jerky tenders or strips.