A pet food company has advised retailers to stop selling some of its dog and cat food that may be contaminated with toxic fungus after several dogs got sick and some died.
The fungus produces poisonous aflatoxin. Symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning include lethargy, loss of appetite, yellowish eyes and gums, and severe or bloody diarrhea.
The 19 recalled varieties of dog and cat food were made by Diamond Pet Foods and sold in New York and 22 other states and under the brand names Diamond, Country Value, and Professional.
The recalled batches have date codes of March 1, 2007 through June 21, 2007 and were made at the company's plant in Gaston, S.C.
The Missouri-based company is aware of fewer than 10 New York dog deaths attributed to the contamination, general manager Mark Brinkmann told the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Seven dogs from the Rochester area were being treated for liver disease and failure at Cornell University Hospital for Animals after eating contaminated food, said university spokeswoman Sabina Lee.
Cornell graduate and veterinarian Stewart Gluckman, in suburban Rochester, discovered the link between the pet food and dog illness, Lee said. Three dogs died in the area, causing veterinarians at Mendon Village Animal Hospital to suspect a contaminated food or water source.
Tests on the deceased dogs' food at the state Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell revealed the presence of the mold.
David Cooper-Vince of Pittsford noticed his 10-year-old golden retriever Lightning behaving strangely and brought her to the Mendon hospital Dec. 15. The dog was euthanized Sunday.
His other dog, Digger, was taken to Cornell for treatment."She still jumps around and barks but she's not keeping food down and there are real abnormalities," Cooper-Vince told The Ithaca Journal. "Even though they're looking good, there still might be something wrong with them."
The Gaston facility also provides products to Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Vermont, and Virginia.