Vaccines, sprays linked to cancers, pet deaths
BY ROSSLYN BEEBY, SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTER
29 Dec, 2010 01:00 AM
Australia's veterinarians and pet owners filed more than 2600 complaints last year about sudden deaths, illnesses and serious side-effects caused by pet vaccines, flea treatments and other veterinary chemical products.
According to a report published last week by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the deaths of more than 60 dogs in 2009 were associated with commonly used veterinary chemicals and vaccines.
Several over-the-counter flea sprays and spot-on treatments contain chemicals that have been banned in Europe for more than a decade.
Scientific studies by the United States Environment Protection Authority have also linked these chemicals to liver, lung and thyroid cancers in animals, as well as DNA damage, severe hair loss and chronic itching.
In one instance cited in the APVMA report, a flea treatment containing the insecticide imidacloprid prompted 255 reports of ''adverse reactions'' in dogs, ranging from nerve inflammation, skin irritations, vomiting, seizures and difficulty in walking.
The chemical was banned in France more than a decade ago after it was linked to the death of billions of bees.
The report reveals another commonly available flea treatment containing the insecticide fipronil was linked last year to 42 reports of adverse reactions in dogs, and 38 in cats. Fipronil is banned in France, Uruguay and China, but the chemical is widely used in Australia to control fleas, ticks, cockroaches, ant infestations and crop pests including locusts.
For more on this story, including comments from Australian Veterinary Association president Barry Smyth on the issue, see the print edition of today's Canberra Times.