NEW YORK, March 30, 2007 Three days ago, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) cautioned that aminopterin was an unlikely suspect in the illnesses and deaths of animals that ingested the recently-recalled contaminated foodsa suspicion that was today confirmed by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In a news conference held today, the FDA announced that further laboratory testing identified the presence of melamine in food samples from the recalled lots. Melamine, which is not highly toxic in general, is used to make durable plastic household products; cleaning products; hard, stain-resistant laminates; flame-retardant foam and in soundproofing.
“Melamine at high doses causes a pronounced diuretic affect in dogs and rats, as well as the development of crystals in their urine,” said Dr. Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president with the ASPCA, who manages the ASPCA’s Midwest Office, including its Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). “The twist in the tale is that melamine itself has a very high safety margin, especially when compared with a toxin such as aminopterin.
“Cats, however, are a very sensitive species, and can react adversely to many chemicals and drugs,” continued Dr. Hansen. “Because of their unique physiology, we suspect that they may also be more sensitive to the adverse effects of melamine.
“Further, crystals in urine have been reported by veterinary diagnosticians and clinicians in some of the pets affected by the contaminated foods. However, the direct connection between melamine and renal failure, especially in cats, is not clear and requires additional investigation.”
The ASPCA recommends that the treatment of pets for kidney failure, which has been directly linked to ingestion of the contaminated food, should continue. “It is imperative to stay in close contact with your veterinarian and follow their direction,” said Dr. Hansen. “In addition, if you have any suspicion that your pet is displaying signs other than those previously noted, and believe these are directly linked to ingestion of the contaminated food, you should notify the FDA immediately.”
Adverse effects or deaths of pets conclusively linked to eating the contaminated foods should be reported to the FDA. The FDA has also posted answers to frequently asked questions about the recall at http://www.fda.gov/. Additionally, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a wealth of resources at http://www.avma.org/aa/menufoodsrecall/default.asp.