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AAVLD releases pet-food survey results, urges improved system to evaluate toxins


Reno, Nev. - 11/29/07 - This year's pet-food crisis points to a need for more efficient means of finding, evaluating and halting any future food-supply contamination.

Reno, Nev. - 11/29/07 - This year's pet-food crisis points to a need for a more efficient means of finding, evaluating and halting any future food-supply contamination.

That is the view of Dr. Barbara Powers, president of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), which released the results of its "Survey of pet-food-induced nephrotoxicity in North America in April to June 2007" at its recent annual meeting in Reno.

The national survey , in which veterinarians who treat companion animals were invited to participate last spring, was aimed at establishing criteria for true cases of renal failure clearly related to the pet-food crisis in which hundreds of dogs and cats died.

Of several hundred surveys submitted, 347 met diagnostic criteria showing a link to adulterated pet foods between April 5 and June 6. Those cases involved 235 cats, of which 61 percent died; and 112 dogs, of which 74 percent died.

Dr. Wilson Rumbeiha, associate professor at the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, organized and presented survey findings. While analyzing survey submissions, the AAVLD looked at five necropsies (four cats and a dog) as a test study, finding melamine and cyanuric acid in four of the five.

The necropsies showed the presence of yellow-brown, fan-shaped crystals within the renal distal tubules and collecting ducts and in some cases in urine sediment.

Results of a separate study, led by veterinary toxicologist Dr. Birgit Puschner at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine presented to AAVLD attendees, showed that melamine and cyanuric acid, acting in combination, produced crystals in pets' urinary systems and kidneys, leading to death, although neither substance by itself proved lethal.

Powers, director of the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, says that because of the pet-food crisis the AAVLD wants to see the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) expand its scope of operations to include, not only infectious diseases, but also toxins.

An AAVLD work group chaired by Dr. Stephen Hooser, assistant director of Purdue University's Animal Disease Diagnostic Center, said the group produced a white paper urging more federal funding for veterinary toxicology laboratories to cover the additional costs of equipment and personnel for toxicology studies.

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