CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Officials with the Food and Drug administration are asking pet owners and veterinarians to help solve a mystery illness caused by jerky pet treats. The FDA has been following the disease for more than five years now, last year finding low levels of antibiotics inside certain jerky pet treats bought from China.
In a letter sent to veterianians and pet owners, however, FDA officials say they don't believe the small amount of drugs could cause the illnesses they're seeing. Local veterinarian Elizabeth Smith tells us,
"The big problem is we don't specifically know what's causing it, or even how prevalent it is"
She tells Fox 4 she's very familiar with the FDA's investigation into the tainted jerky treats
"initially they thought it was contaminated with a drug. It may be an infectious agent, it may be a toxin, its just not known"
In the letter released by the FDA, officials believe most of the treats came from China. They have received 3,000 reports of illnesses, with 3600 cases in dogs, 10 in cats, and 580 deaths all caused by jerky pet treats. They go on to list several symptoms to watch out for including lethargy, vomiting, and diahrrea.
Doctor Smith says these are common symptoms for any illness, and not to get too concerned, too quick, if you notice any.
"Definitely if you're seeing any blood in it, or bloody diahrrea, that would be the time to go see the vet. One episode of vomiting, not necessarily."
For a link to the complete letter sent out by the FDA, just click on the 'Big Red Four' at the top of the web page.