• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail

FDA Continues Salmonella Outbreak Investigation

by Chandra Smith-Collier, Communications Staff
FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 2008 Volume XXIII, No V

The outbreak of salmonellosis associated with contaminated peanut butter products has spread to pets.

In early December 2008, the Food and Drug Administration, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s Food and Safety and Inspection Service, and various State and local health departments, began to investigate the multi-State outbreak of illnesses in humans caused by Salmonella Typhimurium. In addition to humans, animals may also have been affected, according to reports.

As of the beginning of February 2009, CDC reported that 600 persons from 44 States plus one person from Canada had been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium and that the infection may have contributed to eight deaths.

The large number of products and brands recalled already, and the large quantities of some recalled products, makes this one of the largest food recalls ever in the United States.

In addition, a laboratory has confirmed a case of Salmonella in a dog from an Oregon household. Further characterization of this Salmonella isolate was pending as of late February, but Salmonella resembling the outbreak strain was isolated by a private laboratory from recalled peanut butter flavored dog biscuits from this dog’s household. At least three States have reported incidents of dogs that have shown gastrointestinal signs consistent with Salmonella infection, and those animals are known to have consumed peanut butter products mentioned on the FDA recall list.

Pet food products are included in FDA’s searchable database of recalled products. The database is located on the FDA Web site. FDA has also established a consumer Web page that will keep consumers abreast of all updated information on the contamination and recall. The Web page has background on the investigation plus the testimony FDA officials presented to Congress.

Salmonella has been found in certain pet foods and pet treats containing peanut butter or peanut products, including dog and cat treats and bird food. People can get Salmonella infections from handling contaminated pet products, touching infected pets (i.e., contact with pet feces, the anus, or hair around the anus of the pet), or cleaning up after their infected pets. Dogs and cats might not show signs of salmonellosis, but can be carriers of Salmonella and infect other animals or humans.

Owners who believe their pets may have eaten any of the products on the FDA recall list and have concerns that the pets may have salmonellosis may want to bring their pets to a veterinarian.

Veterinarians can report complaints about pet food and other animal feed to the FDA by calling the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their States. Reports should include product details, such as the lot number, brand name, expiration date, manufacturer or distributor, and purchase location. Reports should also include medical information that includes a veterinarian’s report and diagnosis, signs of illness, numbers of animals who consumed suspected product and that do and do not have the signs, and complete medical histories of the animals. Additionally, veterinarians should consider contacting the manufacturer so any necessary investigation can be initiated immediately.

Consumers may also wish to report the illness to the product manufacturer. The contact information should be available on the product package or the company’s Web site.

CDC is recommending to veterinarians that they talk to their clients about what precautions to follow in order to minimize the risk of illness to their families and how to safely clean up after their pets. It is also important to provide treatment recommendations and provide contact information if they have any additional questions.