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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pet food recall: Update


Aspergillus: could this be the illness-causing culprit in the recalled pet food?

After speaking with a close friend of mine who is an ACVP-certified veterinary pathologist, he has confirmed that pathologists across the continent have been describing similar, if not identical, findings in tissue samples from patients having died of the suspected "tainted" pet food.
Acute tubular degeneration and necrosis, with numerous intratubular birefringent crystals. The exact nature of the crystals is not clear (whether they are oxalate or not). Those finding are not specific and the etiology remains unknown at this time, but Aspergillus-associated oxalate nephrosis has been suggested based on the presence of crystals. There
are a few possible causes for oxalate nehprosis. Toxicologists have been analyzing the foods, but nothing significant has been found yet.

Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) toxicity typically causes acute tubular necrosis with the presence of oxalate crystals, however, there is no evidence at this time to claim that antifreeze is the culprit.
Aspergillus is a fungal organism that is ubiquitous, and was found to be the source of serious problems in human patients having undergone surgery in both a New Brunswick and Quebec hospitals in 2002.
It not uncommon to diagnose veterinary patients with infections caused by Aspergillus organisms. Typically, they are respiratory in nature, but can also cause other serious illness such as osteomyelitis (bone infections).

These are calcium oxalate crystals which can be found in the urine and tissues of veterinary patients (human, too) with ethylene glycol toxicity. They can be more elongated and obelisk-shaped, called the monohydrate form.

8 comments:

Kim said...

Are these findings consistent with the Rat Poison they've discovered, or is it likely there is also another cause?

TORONTOVET said...

Kim. Thanks for visiting my blog. No, these results are NOT consistent with rat poison ingestion. Rat poison (rodenticides) typically cause hemorrhage in body cavities. This is not what they're finding. Take care.

Kim said...

Thanks so much for responding so quickly.

This means that there has to be more than one problem/poison/toxic substance, right?

TORONTOVET said...

Kim,

I actually just heard not two minutes ago that Menu Foods held a press conference naming rat poison as the toxin.
If this is the only toxin in the food, I don't understand the lesions found in the kidneys of patients. I'll post more when I find out more. Thanks, Kim!

Kim said...

Just going through some old links and came across your site again. Your post here stuck in my mind the whole time and was part of the reason I kept digging into this (www.petfoodtracker.com was the result!)

With what we know now about the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid together causing crystals - I have to ask - are *these* crystals the same as *those* crystals?

Or, are we still missing something?

TORONTOVET said...

Kim,

Thanks for keeping up with this! It appears that the crystals seen in affected patients are of the sulfa type. These are crystals that most vets have never before seen.
Apparently bacteria (Pseudomonas and Klebsiella species) can break down melamine into cyanuric acid and then further into urea. The first two components have been combined experimentally to produce crystals similar to those seen in affected patients.

Kim said...

Um, translate please! I got lost in the 'these' and 'those'...

It sounds like you're saying that the 'melamine-caused' crystals are different from the ones originally found and mentioned in your post. Is that right, or am I misunderstanding?

if that is right, I have lots of questions! Starting with...

Do you know if pathologists are still finding the 'original' crystals? And, did they ever find a cause for them?

Thanks so much! Feel free to email me if it's easier - pft@playingbig.com

TORONTOVET said...

Kim,

The crystals seen by pathologists may always have been of the sulfa type, though I'm not certain. Though I'm not a veterinary pathologist, I saw a few slides online of affected kidney tissue and the crystals are definitely not calcium oxalate. They are completely unfamiliar to me. Their source may be explained by what I wrote in my previous comment. You may want to surf the web for more details regarding the type and nature of the crystals found.