Seresto Flea & Tick Collars Safety Alert

Seresto Flea & Tick Collars Safety Alert

In late April, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Congressional House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, opened investigations into the safety of Seresto Flea and Tick Collars. They called upon manufacturer Elanco, to temporarily recall the collars for the duration of their investigations into adverse reaction and pet death reports. They also suggested that consumers should receive refunds for purchase and return of Seresto collars.

“…it’s only appropriate in this case, that the manufacturer do a voluntary recall…I think that it’s appropriate, out of an abundance of caution, that we step back, we look at the situation, investigate and proceed from there,” said Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the Congressional House Subcommittee. The chairman’s comments were made during an interview with CBS News.

Chairman Krishnamoorthi also stated that both Elanco and the original manufacturer, Bayer, have been asked to disclose all reports or communications related to possible toxicity of the collars, to the EPA and other regulatory bodies. He emphasized the subcommittee’s concern that an unknown number of adverse incidents may have occurred that have not been reported.

Although the Seresto collars have been sold in the U.S. since 2012, it was not until 2020 when the Center for Biological Diversity requested EPA documents related to Seresto collars, and after an investigative report published by USA Today in March 2021, that federal agencies responded. The investigative report published by USA Today, found that from 2012 until June 2020, approximately 1,700 pet deaths  and 75,000 adverse health incidents possibly linked to the collars, have been reported to the EPA. There have also been 900 suspected adverse health incidents that involved people.

Since 2012, when Seresto collars became available, there have been more than 25 million collars sold. The collars became an immediate top seller due to their potency, which can provide up to eight months of flea, flea larvae, tick and lice protection according to the packaging label. Seresto collars have been particularly valued in areas of the U.S. where Lyme Disease is prevalent. Lyme Disease is one of the most common diseases primarily transmitted through tick bites to humans and animals.

Animal welfare experts and organizations fear it is impossible to determine how many adverse health incidents, injuries and deaths, possibly related to Seresto collars, may have gone unreported since 2012. They say that typical consumers probably were unaware of possible pet symptoms or deaths, sometimes  in otherwise healthy animals, that have been associated with use of the collars. Consumers may not have consulted a veterinarian, or known the importance of, or how to, formally report adverse pet reactions or deaths to the EPA if they suspected some link to the insecticide collars.

Dog, puppy, cat and kitten owners have observed a variety of harmful health reactions or behavioral changes by their pets after exposure to the Seresto collars. Those reactions have ranged from hair loss, skin irritation or itchiness, to lethargy, loss of appetite or motor function, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, seizures, convulsions and death.

Some of the most severe, immediate adverse reactions were in kittens and puppies who were fitted with Seresto collars. The Seresto collar safety instructions state that they are safe for puppies or dogs older than seven weeks, and kittens or cats ten weeks or older.  Reported symptoms in mature pets appeared both immediately, and in other cases more gradually. Many pet owners stated that their pets were active and in excellent health prior to contact with the Seresto collars, which made harmful health symptoms or behavioral changes quickly apparent.

The Seresto collar product label states that it is for external use only. Pet owners point out that most pets occasionally or frequently lick and groom themselves, unavoidably ingesting the insecticides that are present on the skin and fur. 

The Seresto collar label and an EPA 2016 bulletin, both warn that  Seresto collars should be kept out of the reach of children. The EPA further recommended that after placement of the collar on a pet,  young children should be kept away from the pet for at least a day to minimize exposure, among other warnings.

Federal law requires pesticide product manufacturers, in this case Bayer and Elanco, to report any adverse incidents associated with their products containing approved pesticides. Veterinarians are also obligated to report suspected adverse side effects of pharmaceutical or pesticide products observed in their pet patients. Consumers are also encouraged to directly contact both the EPA or manufacturer hotlines or website message portals to report adverse health reactions in their pets or humans.

Those direct veterinarian or consumer hotline and website message incident reports, are required to be passed on by the manufacturer, to the EPA for evaluation. Whether or not this required adverse incident documentation and reportage regarding Seresto collars has been properly done, which could have triggered earlier action by the EPA, is part of the federal investigation.

As of The Resident’s publication deadline, Elanco has refused  any recall or consumer refunds, and the collars continue to be sold online and in retail stores. Elanco attorneys state that there is no medical or scientific basis for recall. They further state that of the millions of Seresto collars sold, less than 0.3% have been linked to adverse incidents, according to reports by the Business Insider.

Elanco attorneys also deny the validity of any adverse reaction reports. They claim there is no link between Seresto collars and adverse pet symptoms or deaths. There are some veterinarians who report they have observed no adverse health symptoms or deaths in their pet patients who wear Seresto collars. They point out the importance of a complete investigation by the EPA and other regulatory bodies to fully prove or disprove any link between  adverse reactions and pet deaths, with use or exposure to Seresto collars.

The two ingredients in Seresto collars, both EPA-approved pesticides, are imidacloprid and flumethrin. The Seresto collars are sold encased in clear plastic,  contained inside of an oval metal container. The metal container is notable because it is unusual; other pet insecticide collars are sold in boxes. The collar itself is made of flexible plastic impregnated with the two insecticides. Those insecticides are gradually released onto the animal’s fur and skin over a period of eight months, according to the EPA.

Seresto Flea and Tick Collars were first introduced in 2012 by German pharmaceutical company, Bayer. In August of 2020, Bayer sold its animal health division to Elanco. Elanco is an American pharmaceutical company that produces medications and vaccines for pets and livestock. Until 2019 Elanco was a subsidiary of Eli Lilly & Company pharmaceutical company.

Experts urge the public to consult with a veterinarian regarding any use of flea and tick collars or insecticide products for pets, to read labels and follow safety instructions. They remind consumers only to purchase pet supplies from veterinarians or reputable major pet supply retailers, never online, where many hard-to-detect counterfeit products are sold.

Should a pet experience any unusual behavior or health symptoms after contact with insecticide collars or products, contact a veterinarian immediately. As of May 2021, the EPA has not formally issued any consumer warnings about, or mandatory product recall of, the Seresto Flea and Tick Collars.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

Editor’s note:

After publication The Resident was contacted and asked to make the following correction/clarification to the above article and regret any inaccuracies that may have been published:

The article opens by stating that “in late April, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Congressional House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, opened investigations into the safety of Seresto Flea and Tick Collars. They called upon manufacturer Elanco, to temporarily recall the collars for the duration of their investigations into adverse reaction and pet death reports.”

The EPA has never opened an investigation in the safety of Seresto, nor as it ever issued a recall of the product, as the last sentence of the article points out: “As of May 2021, the EPA has not formally issued any consumer warnings about, or mandatory product recall of, the Seresto Flea and Tick Collars.”

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