Food

Investigation of Multistate Outbreak of Human Infections Linked to Dry Pet Food

Boxer eating from pet dishPosted June 14, 2012 

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What is the Problem?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials is investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Infantis infections linked to pet food manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods at its production facility in Gaston, South Carolina.   

Through interviews by state public health officials, FDA’s review of consumer complaints, and from a comparison of pet products from human exposure, and FDA and state testing, some brands of dry pet food produced by Diamond Pet Foods at a single manufacturing facility in South Carolina have now been linked to human Salmonella infections.  

Update - June 13, 2012

According to CDC reports, a total of 22 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis have been reported. Twenty ill persons have been reported from 13 states. The five new cases are from: Alabama (1), California (1), Illinois (1), New York (1), and South Carolina (1). Additionally, two ill persons have been reported from Canada (see Public Health Agency of Canada Health Notice: Illnesses related to Salmonella and pet food disclaimer icon.)

Among persons for whom information is available, illnesses began between October 2011 and May 11, 2012. Ill persons range in age from less than one year old to 82 years old and the median age is 46.5 years. Sixty-eight percent of patients are female. Among the 17 patients with available information, 6 (35%) were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses that occurred after May 11, 2012 might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.

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What is Being Done About the Problem?  

Through interviews by state public health officials, FDA’s review of consumer complaints, and from a comparison of pet products from human exposure, and FDA and state testing, some brands of dry pet food produced by Diamond Pets Foods at a single manufacturing facility in South Carolina have now been linked to human Salmonella infections. Public health officials used DNA “fingerprints” of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to investigate cases of human illness.  

FDA, CDC, and state investigations are ongoing in an effort to determine if other brands of dry dog food produced at the South Carolina facility may be linked to confirmed human illnesses.  FDA will provide updates on the investigation as new information becomes available.

FDA, CDC, and state investigations are ongoing in an effort to determine if other brands of dry dog food produced at the South Carolina facility may be linked to confirmed human illnesses.   

Diamond Pet Foods has recalled 16 brands of dry dog and cat food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Complete information on the recalled products, including photos, lot numbers, and distribution information on each is located at Diamond Pet Foods Recall Information disclaimer icon. 

Several other companies with products manufactured at the Gaston, S.C. facility have issued voluntary recalls, since some of their products were produced at the Gaston facility during the time frame of the recalls and have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Those companies include:

Diamond Pet Foods has also recalled Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Lamb and Rice made at its Meta, MO plant because testing showed it to contain Salmonella Liverpool, which is not the same strain of Salmonella as the one linked to the Gaston plant. See Firm Recall Press ReleaseDiamond Pet Foods Expands Voluntary Recall Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food Production Code DSL 0801 Due to Small Potential for Salmonella Contamination for more information. 

Diamond Pet Foods continues to work directly with distributors and retailers where the recalled products are carried to remove them as quickly as possible from the marketplace. 

Additional investigational steps include analyzing consumer complaints to determine if they are related to this outbreak and continued state surveillance to determine whether any recall expansion may be required. 

FDA will provide updates on the recall and the investigation as new information becomes available.  

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What are the Symptoms of Salmonella?

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. 

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. Well animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. 

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Who is at Risk? 

Anyone can be made ill through Salmonella Infantis infection. Infants, older adults and those with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. CDC reports that this outbreak strain (Infantis) is rare, and typically only 0 to 3 cases are reported per month to PulseNet. 

What Do Consumers Need To Do?

People who think they might have become ill after contact with dry pet food or with an animal that has eaten recalled dry pet food should consult their health care provider.   

Consumers should check their homes for recalled dog food products. Do not feed recalled products to your pet and do not handle the pet food.  Follow the tips listed at FDA’s Safe Handling Tips for Pet Foods and Treats

Pet owners who are unsure if the product they purchased is included in the recall, or who would like a replacement product or a refund, may contact Diamond Pet Foods at 800-442-0402, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, or visit Diamond Pet Foods Recall Information disclaimer icon.

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Who Should be Contacted? 

Veterinarians and consumers alike should report cases of animal illness associated with pet foods to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state, or electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. For more information on reporting a complaint about pet food, go to FDA's How to Report a Pet Food Complaint. 

Investigation Progression  

FDA became involved in early April when the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reported detecting Salmonella from an intact package of Diamond Naturals Lamb and Rice Formula for Adult Dogs, collected during retail surveillance sampling.  Diamond Pet Food was notified of the sampling results, and agreed to voluntarily recall this product on April 6, 2012. See Firm Recall Press Release: Diamond Pet Foods Voluntarily Recalls Limited Number of Dry Dog Food Bags Due to a Potential Health Risk for more information. At that time, there were no known dog illnesses reported.  

An additional finding of Salmonella in a sample taken by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, from an opened bag of Diamond Brand Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Adult Light Formula dry dog food collected from the home of an ill person, and an unopened bag of the product collected from a retail store led to a recall of that product on April 26, 2012. See Firm Recall Press Release: Diamond Pet Foods Expands Voluntary Recall of One Production Run of Dry Dog Food Due to a Potential Health Risk for more information. 

A sample of Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food collected by FDA during an inspection at the South Carolina production facility also yielded Salmonella Infantis, which led to a recall of that product on April 30, 2012. 

As a result of the initial positive sample taken by the State of Michigan, The FDA inspected the Gaston production facility. Samples of Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food collected by FDA during an inspection at the Gaston, SC production facility yielded Salmonella Infantis, which led to a recall of the product on April 30, 2012. See Firm Recall Press Release: Diamond Pet Foods Expands Voluntary Recall to Include Diamond Puppy Formula due to Possible Salmonella Contamination for more information. During this inspection, FDA also collected environmental and ingredient samples at the facility, which so far have yielded negative results for the outbreak strain. 

A surveillance sample of Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Lamb and Rice collected by the state of Ohio from the Diamond Meta, MO plant has now yielded a positive for Salmonella Liverpool (not the outbreak strain). Diamond issued a recall for this product on May 21, 2012. See Firm Recall Press Release: Diamond Pet Foods Expands Voluntary Recall Damond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food Production Code DSL 0801 Due to Small Potential for Salmonella Contamination for more information. 

Currently FDA is analyzing consumer complaints to determine if they are related to this outbreak. State agencies will continue surveillance to determine whether any recall expansion may be required.

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Page Last Updated: 10/31/2013
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