Popular flea collar may be linked to nearly 1,700 pet deaths

Popular flea collar may be linked to pet deaths
Popular flea collar may be linked to pet deat... 02:16

Members of Congress are demanding one of the largest single product recalls in U.S. history after a top-selling flea and tick collar was linked to the deaths of nearly 1,700 pets and hundreds of injuries to humans. 

"When we put the collar on, everything changed and was like a switch just flipped," Alex Jaeger said. 

Alex Jaeger and his mother, Eleanor, say two months after they put a Seresto collar on their golden retriever Blake, he developed seizures. They say their veterinarian gave Blake epilepsy medication, but the dog has never been the same.

"I don't want anyone to ever go through this," Eleanor Jaeger said. 

Karen Pisano said one of her two 4-month-old kittens fell ill within two days of putting their collars on in August. The legs of her orange tabby, Oscar, began twitching. 

"That's when I became extremely alarmed," Pisano said. 

On a veterinarian's advice, she says she immediately removed the collars but Oscar died that night. 

"This poor thing, he didn't do anything wrong. We didn't do anything wrong. To see him pass — he didn't deserve that," Pisano said. 

Seresto collars contain two different pesticides designed to ward off fleas and ticks. Retailer Elanco says the collars are safe.  

But government documents obtained by a nonprofit group show more than 75,000 incidents have been reported to the Environmental Protection Agency since the Seresto collars were introduced in 2012. The incidents range from skin irritation to seizures and death. 

"I mean, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was just how high these numbers are," said scientist Nathan Donley. 

Elanco disputes that, saying "the incident report rate … in the U.S. has been below 0.3%" and the majority "relate to non-serious effects" such as skin problems.  

A company official said the EPA data "cannot be used to draw conclusions on what may have actually caused the issues," that "a report is not an indication of cause," and said there's "no established link between exposure to the active ingredients in Seresto and pet deaths."

But Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi wants the collars off the market — at least temporarily. 

"I think that it's only appropriate in this case that the manufacturer do a voluntary recall," he said. "We look at the situation, investigate and then proceed from there." 

The company said it is cooperating with the subcommittee but will not issue a recall. A recall, a spokesperson told CBS News, would be up to regulators.