Seresto Flea and Tick Collars Linked to 1,700 Pet Deaths

You’ve seen the ads of cute family pets running through the fields. They are protected from fleas and ticks because of their Seresto collars, so says Elanco, the manufacturer.

But instead of eight months of protection from fleas and ticks, thousands of pets have turned up injured or dead, according to a nonprofit group, far more when compared to other flea collars.

Pet owners have been harmed too, yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done nothing to inform the public or remove the danger from store shelves.

That may change now that CBS News, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, and USA Today have broken the story on the national news.

Now two pet owners have filed a class-action lawsuit against Elanco Animal Health, alleging the company misrepresented the safety of their product. In one case, a dog died suddenly. In the other, the Siberian Husky developed cancer in the area near the collar.

Dozens more lawsuits are expected to be filed around the country.

A Top Seller

Seresto has been on the market since 2012. The popular pet and flea collar was developed by Bayer and is now marketed and sold by Elanco.

The maker claims it is safe for both dogs and cats while it kills fleas and ticks. Seresto contains two pesticides – imidacloprid and flumethrin – which are supposed to be released in small doses into the skin of cats and dogs.

The pesticide will “repel and kill various harmful insects” which include ticks, flea larvae, fleas, and lice, so says Elanco.

The nonprofit, Center for Biological Diversity, has taken over informing the public where the EPA has not. Using a public records request, the center found that since 2012, the EPA has received at least 1,698 reports of pet deaths, and more than 75,000 reports of harm linked to the collars. Included in the data are nearly 1,000 reports involving harm to humans who came too close to the flea collars.

That is far more than is seen in other pet collars and the agency has known about problems for years but failed to alert the public, says Karen McCormack, a retired EPA employee.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to monitor pesticide products and inform the public. That has not happened.

In terms of human harm, a 12-year-old boy was hospitalized with seizures and vomiting after being exposed to the Seresto collar on his dog.

In another incident, a 43-year-old man slept in the bed with four of his dogs who wore the collars. He developed throat irritation and ear drainage. His doctor said he had a hole in his ear drum.  When he took the collars off the dogs, the symptoms went away.

Despite the reports, the agency took no action to address these outcomes.

The EPA proposed re-approving imidacloprid last year because its class of insecticides, neonicotinoid, is connected to the death of bees and butterflies. The pesticide is banned in the European Union for outdoor use while it is used for agriculture crops in the U.S.

Flumethrin is the active ingredient in one product only, Seresto.

In a 2012 study, Bayer uncovered that combining pesticides can increase its efficacy, known as a “synergistic effect,” meaning they are more toxic when used together.

The EPA is supposed to monitor products that contain pesticides yet has sat on this information it has known for years, according to the retired EPA employee, talking to USA Today.

Congress is Now Involved

A Congressional subcommittee is now asking for Elanco’s CEO to conduct a voluntary recall of the collars and to issue a full refund to customers.

“We believe that the actual number of deaths and injuries is much greater, since the average consumer would not know to report pet harm to EPA, an agency seemingly unrelated to consumer pet products,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi wrote in a letter to Elanco.

He is chairman of the subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.

Elanco says it will not consider a voluntary recall.  According to USA Today, Bayer reported an annual revenue of more than $300 million on sales of the collar.

Not only might the manufacturer be liable but Amazon.com is the top-selling seller of Seresto collars.

Some Amazon reviews warn other Seresto customers. “The collars “put us through hell,” says one when used on an Australian Shepherd and the dog “developed severe itching and became very irritable after installing this Bayer Flea and tick collar. She started running into walls in our home and became very delirious.”

Another review says the dog had “some neurological problems” after putting on the collar.

Yet another said, “Two of my dogs have developed a terrible reaction to the chemicals that resulted in a nasty rash that needed treatment with antibiotics to prevent infection.”

Litigation will center on false advertising by Bayer HealthCare, LLC along with the fact that federal regulators have failed to take action even though Seresto collars have the greatest number of reported health incidents when compared to other flea collars.

Elanco says there is no established link between exposure to Seresto and pet death and blames “misleading media coverage” for the adverse event reports about minor effects such as skin irritation.

Sources:

Elanco https://www.petbasics.com/campaign/seresto-safety/

USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2021/03/02/seresto-dog-cat-collars-found-harm-pets-humans-epa-records-show/4574753001/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2021/03/26/seresto-flea-tick-collars-lead-class-action-lawsuit-pet-owners/7011012002/

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