September 23, 2009
Following product recalls, Fanconi-like syndrome outbreak abates in Australia
Cause remains unknown
By: Edie Lau
For The VIN News Service
An outbreak in dogs of acquired proximal renal tubulopathy, also
known as Fanconi-like syndrome, appears to have ended in Australia
since two different kinds of dog chews and treats were pulled from the
The kidney conditions, sometimes fatal, were associated
with the feeding of chicken jerky treats made by KraMar and grain-based
dental chews made by Virbac. Analysis of both products revealed no
contaminants or toxicants, however.
KraMar pulled two products —
Supa Naturals Chicken Breast Strips 150G and 110G — in December 2008,
after receiving more than a dozen reports of dogs having eaten the
chicken snacks falling ill with Fanconi-like syndrome.
illness is so called because it resembles Fanconi, a usually inherited
condition in which the kidneys lose electrolytes and nutrients in urine
rather than resorbing them properly into the body. Symptoms include
excessive drinking and urination (polydipsia and polyuria, PUPD) and
glucose in urine (glucosuria). Lethargy, loss of appetite and vomiting
also are common.
Dr. Linda Fleeman, a senior lecturer in small
animal medicine at the University of Sydney who treated some of the
dogs and has tried to track down the cause, reported that 99 dogs that
were fed the Supa Naturals Chicken Breast Strips had confirmed cases.
They acquired the disease between August 2007 and January 2008. Five of
the dogs died (some through euthanasia). For the survivors, recovery
took anywhere from less than two weeks to six months.
chicken jerky products were withdrawn from the market, incidence of the
disease declined significantly, Fleeman said, although a few new cases
this year came up, associated with KraMar’s Supa Naturals Chicken
Breast Bites, which retailers sold at a discount because the line was
Then in May, several more new cases of acquired
proximal renal tubulopathy surfaced that were associated not with dried
chicken treats but with VeggieDents, a corn-, soy- and rice-based
dental chew that had been introduced in March by Virbac through
veterinarians. Virbac pulled the product from the market in Australia
on June 1.
Fleeman told the VIN News Service by e-mail that she
is aware of only one new case since the Virbac recall, and that was
associated with a KraMar product.
Although Virbac’s laboratory
analysis of VeggieDents could identify no link to the disease, the
company is keeping the product out of the country for the time being,
said Stephane Wojtkowiak, a spokesman in Virbac headquarters in France.
“They have not scheduled yet the return of products to the shelves as
Virbac Australia is willing to work closely with the local authorities
to better understand the reason of Fanconi-like syndrome,” he told VIN
News Service by e-mail.
No cases of Fanconi-like syndrome have
been associated with VeggieDents outside of Australia, so the product
is still available in Europe, Asia and the United States.
chews are made in Vietnam. Virbac has said that the product in
Australia, unlike those sold elsewhere, is irradiated as required by
the Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service.
irradiation at the levels used in Australia has been linked to
neurological disease, including ataxia and tetraplegia, in cats; dogs
are not known to be affected. The Australian government in late May
banned irradiation of cat food because of compelling scientific
evidence that the sterilization process may harm cats. How irradiation
may induce toxicity is unknown.
Outside of Australia, cases of
Fanconi-like syndrome occurred in the United States in 2007 among dogs
that ate various brands of chicken jerky that, like the KraMar
products, were made in China. Authorities were unable to identify a
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