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Number of pets affected by tainted food rises in Statesboro
Sam the cat gets blood drawn by Dr. Gary Edwards, left, and veterinary technician Samantha Dickenson of Gateway Veterinary Hospital as owner Lewis Brown, right, and wife Beth, background not pictured, watch Thursday. Sam was being tested after eating dog food that was recalled by Menu Foods. The Brown's other pet, Zach, a cocker spaniel, was being held overnight for observation after showing signs of sluggishness and vomiting. Edwards says that he has seen between five and ten cases of animals affected by the tainted foods in the last couple of days. Zach, he says, will be fine and ready to go home today. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file
    The number of Statesboro-area pets affected by canned or pouched food included in an international pet food recall has risen, said one local veterinarian.
    Gateway Animal Hospital's Dr. Gary Edwards said four dogs and a cat are being treated at his facility for illness suspected to be connected to having eaten food manufactured by Menu Foods.
    A complete listing of cat and dog foods affected by the recall is available at Internet web site
    Edwards said he and others on his staff observed symptoms in other animals before the recall  that could have been caused by the tainted food, which contains wheat gluten that is believed to be the cause of the illnesses and deaths.
    So far, across the nation 14 cats and one dog have died from the food-related illness, he said.
    More pet owners, concerned over their animals, have called veterinarians and local pet food vendors regarding the issue.
    "Our phones are ringing off the hook," Edwards said.
    Other local veterinary hospitals also reported receiving numerous calls about the tainted pet food, but none of them reported having any cases linked to the recalled food.
    "We have not seen any I can directly link to Menu Foods and the recall," said Dr. Stan Lee, with Westside Veterinary Clinic. "We're happy about that but sad for those involved."
    Dry pet foods are not affected by the recall.
    Edwards said the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association web site ( offers ample information about pet-food related illness and what to do if someone suspects their pet is affected.
    The symptoms of the illness indicate kidney failure, although the exact cause of the illness has yet to be determined, according to the Web site. Symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in water consumption and in urination.
    The site suggests pet owners suspecting their animals are ill due to tainted food should retain a sample of the food, preferably four cans, stored in airtight bags. Owners should document the  product name, type of product and manufacturing information, keeping all packaging and locating the date codes or production lot numbers and purchase receipts.
    Owners should also document when the pet ate the possibly contaminated food, how much the animal consumed, and the time symptoms appeared.
    The Web site recommends anybody with a pet exhibiting signs of illness  take the animal to the veterinarian.
    The illness is treatable, Edwards said. The food-related illness appears to be more lethal in cats, as a significantly higher number of fatalities in ill animals reported nationwide are feline.
    Blood work testing "appears normal" in the affected animals in his care, he said. The animals all show "excessive drinking, urination and vomiting."
    Conservative therapy and medicine to control vomiting is helping the four dogs and cat being treated at Gateway, he said.
    All  five animals being treated at his facility for possible food contamination had consumed pet foods listed in the recall, he said.
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