FDA: Nearly 600 Pets Dead in Connection to Jerky Treats

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-10_4f508da713.jpgiStock/Thinkstock (WASHINGTON) -- Pet owners may want to steer clear of giving their cats and dogs any jerky treats. The Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday that since 2007, nearly 600 pets have died in connection to the consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats -- most of which were made in China.  In all, more than 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have been sickened.

This year through September, the FDA says it has received about 3,000 reports of pets falling ill. The cases involve dogs of different sizes, ages and breeds. The majority of the complaints -- 60 percent -- have been for gastrointestinal illness, while 30 percent involve kidney or urinary signs.

While the number of complaints has dropped sharply since several treats were taken off of store shelves in January, the agency has reached out to veterinarians and pet owners for help in its ongoing investigation.

"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," Bernadette Dunham, the director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement.  "Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it."

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