Pet Food, Pork and Tampons

May 13, 2008 at 4:49 am 1 comment

This just in from Pig Progress:

Australia’s first case of toxic shock syndrome caused by a pig carcass has been officially reported although doctors investigating the case believe there may have been three more human infections elsewhere in Australia.

The pet-food worker, a 41 year old man, developed the human form of the deadly pig disease, caused by Streptococcus suis, while processing animals at a Melbourne plant.

The disease has killed meat workers in Asia, most recently in China, where 215 butchers and processors were infected in 2005, half proving fatal.

In an interview the supervising specialist Dr Adrian Tramontana said, “Initially we believed our patient was the first human case of Streptococcus suis toxic shock syndrome in Australia, but we have since been informed of at least three possible human cases in other parts of Australia.”

According to information provided by Kansas State University:

Streptococci are a family of gram-positive bacteria some of which can cause either localized or systemic infections in both humans and animals. Some strains rarely cause disease and are often considered to be commensal (normal) inhabitants of the skin and mucosal surfaces (oral, nasal, intestinal), while other strains are capable of causing serious or even life-threatening infections.

In dogs, Streptococci (Strep) are known for their ability to occasionally cause septicemia (blood born infections) in puppies and a range of localized diseases in adults. 

In the early 90’s, Streptococci (Group A, ß-hemolytic Strep) emerged as the cause of a previously unrecognized disease in humans. The clinical disease became known as Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS) because it closely mimics the better known “Toxic Shock” in women caused by toxin producing strains of Staphylococci  (Staph). Rapid onset, high fever, hypotension, and shock are prominent characteristics of STSS in humans.

 Streptococcal bacteria also cause ‘flesh eating’ disease in humans.  And both the toxic shock and felsh eating forms of the disease advance very rapidly.  According to Dr. Brad Fenwick, professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University, dogs that develop canine streptococcal toxic shock are healthy only hours prior to becoming very sick.  Without prompt therapy, the dog’s condition deteriorates rapidly with death occurring in as few as eight to 12 hours.  And without treatment, 50% of all infected dogs will die.

Considering the case of the Australian pet food processor — do we need to investigate whether pet food is one source of this virulent disease (it has generally been considered an issue of dog-dog transmission)? 

Our friends over at Pet Connection tell us that the FDA will hold a public meeting tomorrow (Tuesday May 13, 2008 ) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to discuss pet food safety standards.  Given the problems we’ve seen over the last year with melamine-contaminated wheat gluten, salmonella and other nastiness in commercial pet foods — is it too much to ask that the government require that manufacturer list the name and location of the facility that the food was processed in on the package?

As the FDA moves ahead with tomorrow’s meeting, perhaps we should keep in mind that ironic motto for Rely, the infamous tampon that caused toxic shock syndrome in women, “Rely, it even absorbs the worry!” 

Actually, if you look at the way that parent company, Proctor and Gamble, handled the Rely debacle, it appears that when dealing with last year’s problems, pet food processors followed their example in many ways.  Let’s hope that tomorrow the FDA puts consumer protection before corporate profits — and that pet owners don’t have to absorb the worry.

Entry filed under: cynicism, dogs, health, pet, pets, science. Tags: .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. I. Moon  |  March 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    There hasn’t been much mention of this in the popular press. Is this limited just to pork?

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