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Characterization of the 2007 outbreak of nephrotoxicity among dogs and cats associated with melamine in pet food.

Objective. To characterize the 2007 outbreak of renal failure in dogs and cats associated with melamine in pet food; by clinical signs, severity of disease and spatial and temporal distribution of the pets affected.

Design. Retrospective case series.

Data Source and Analysis. Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) data were obtained from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on pet foods, pets and pet owners affected nationwide during the 2007 pet food recalls. A confirmed case of nephrotoxicity in a dog or cat was defined as one with at least three of the typical clinical signs and symptoms of nephrotoxicity, consumed a recalled product and visited a veterinarian; while a probable case was defined as one with at less than three of the typical clinical signs and symptoms of nephrotoxicity and consumed a suspected product; and a possible case was defined as one that consumed a suspected product but did not show any clinical sign of nephrotoxicity. Data were entered in an excel spreadsheet and descriptive statistics run using SPSS version 7. EPI INFO version 3.2 was used to draw trends of the outbreak and map out the distribution of cases by state and by time of report. Using the late of the dog/cat (whether died, had life threatening condition or recovered) as an outcome variable, chi square and logistic regression will be run to determine which variables were significantly associated with the late of the animals.

Results. The 2007 melamine related nephrotoxicity in dogs and cats included over 10,409 cat and dog cases nationwide from almost all states with 2% confirmed cases, 65% probable and 43% possible cases. Almost hall (44%) of the complaints to the FDA were defined by FDA as baseless, 40.4% perceived to be due to kidney disease, 4.8% associated with death of an animal (not attributed to kidney disease) and 8.7% suspected to have been due to pet food contamination. A total of 54% of dogs and cats exposed to melamine contaminated feed were reported to have died, 29% resulted in life threatening condition and 13.5% in non-life threatening condition. Over three-quarters (78%) of the respondents reported visiting a medical personnel/veterinarian of which 54% reported death of their dog or cat and 34% reported their dog or cats had a life threatening condition. The cats and dogs that died were however similar in the following characteristics (severity of illness and the pet food consumed) to those that did not die. Over 279 pet brands were contaminated, however 'Iams' (20.3%) was the most affected, followed by 'Special kitty' (13.7%), 'Nutro' (11.4%), 'O1 Roy' (9.8%), 'Purina' (4.7%), 'Alpo' (4.4%) and others (34.6%). Chi square and logistic regression analyses are pending.

Conclusion. These data provide a better understanding of the epidemiology of the 2007 melamine related nephrotoxicity outbreak in the US and are vital for planning management strategies for similar future outbreaks




(1.) Burns, K. (2007). Recall shines spotlight on pet foods. J Am Vet Med Assoc 230:1285-1288

(2.) FDA (2007) Interim Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment. (May 25, 2007). Retrieved on 3/5/2007

Stella Opendi Sasanya [1] *, Susan Olet [2], Robert Littlefield (3) and Margaret L. Khaitsa [2,1],

[1] Great Plains Institute of Food Safety, [2] Department of Veterinary & Microbiological Sciences, [3] Department of Communication--North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, 58105
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Author:Sasanya, Stella Opendi; Olet, Susan; Littlefield, Robert; Khaitsa, Margaret L.
Publication:Proceedings of the North Dakota Academy of Science
Article Type:Abstract
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2009
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