A pet food called Sportmix, manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods Inc., has been implicated in the death of 28 dogs and illness in eight more in the USA. The FDA provides a full report and in essence they say that the deaths have been caused by high levels of aflatoxin produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus which grows on corn and other grains, which in turn are used in pet food.
High levels of aflatoxin can cause death in pets and certainly make them very ill. The food concerned might not have any indication that it has mould in it but it may still have the toxin. The FDA is doing a follow-up check at the manufacturing facility and it is a developing situation so their information will constantly change until the matter is settled.
One issue with pets being poisoned by aflatoxin is that they tend to eat the same food day-by-day and therefore if that particular brand of food is tainted they will constantly eat a poison. Conversely, if they had a wide variety of foods it would help protect them as the toxin would not build up inside their bodies.
Of course the food has been recalled by Midwestern Pet Food Inc.. It occurred on December 30, 2020. The symptoms of illness includes lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice which is indicated by a yellowish tint to the eyes and ears, and/or diarrhoea. There maybe long-term liver damage and sometimes death as indicated.
Some pets can suffer liver damage without showing symptoms of it. The FDA says that the people handling the food are not at risk of being poisoned by it. However, they should wash their hands after handling.
I’d recommend that people visit the FDA website for a complete list of Sportmix foods which are deemed to be affected. Obviously dog and cat owners should remove the foods from storage and from food bowls and report the matter to their veterinarian as soon as possible. Obviously if the dog is ill they should take the animal to the vet in any case. The veterinarian will then report the matter to the FDA if the illness is due to aflatoxin.
Veterinarians dealing with this poison should ask their client for a histoy of the foods eaten. Veterinarians can scan and email case reports including diagnostic testing to the FDA via their safety reporting portal or by calling the state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.