WASHINGTON, DC, December 2, 2002 (ENS) - Thousands of illnesses and deaths
in cats and kittens have led to a recall of some flea and tick products,
along with new warning labels and other protective measures.
Over a year ago, we published an article reporting the deaths of cats following the use of Hartz Advanced Care Brand Flea and Tick Drops Plus for Cats and Kittens and Hartz Advanced Care Brand Once-a-Month Flea and Tick Drops for Cats and Kittens.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said last week that safety concerns stemming from use of two flea and tick control products for cats and kittens, led the agency to persuade the Hartz Mountain Corp. to enact measures to reduce potential risks to pets from using these products.
Under an agreement with the EPA, Hartz has ceased the sale and distribution of Hartz Advanced Care Brand Flea and Tick Drops Plus for Cats and Kittens and Hartz Advanced Care Brand Once-a-Month Flea and Tick Drops for Cats and Kittens. The company will recall these products, and repackage and re-label its existing stock of the pesticides to educate consumers about their risks.
To continue to evaluate safety concerns for cats, the EPA is also requiring Hartz to submit an additional animal safety study conducted by an independent laboratory, and to submit additional quarterly reports specific to cats, summarizing any incidents of toxic effects from Hertz products.
The EPA sought the agreement after investigating thousands of incidents where pets suffered adverse effects from the products. Complaints included minor problems such as skin irritation or hair loss at the application site to more serious effects on the nervous system, such as tremors, convulsions and sometimes death.
The relabeled products, which will start appearing on store shelves over the next several months, will include stronger precautionary statements and use directions. Under the revised use directions, application of the products will be limited to a single spot applied on the back of the
animal's head, reducing the likelihood that the cat will lick and ingest the chemical.
The new labels will also direct users to consult with a veterinarian before use of these products on debilitated, aged, medicated, pregnant or nursing animals, or animals known to be sensitive to pesticides. The labels will advise that cats should be monitored after application of the product and if any adverse symptoms are observed, the animal should be washed with mild soap and rinsed with water and evaluated by a veterinarian.
The EPA is also requiring Hartz to conduct a consumer education program, which will include a web site, direct mail campaign to pet owners, pet stores and veterinarians on the new safety improvements. If consumers choose to return either of the two Hartz products, the company is expected to exchange it for the relabeled product or refund the purchase price.