Monday 1 April 2019

USDA Fed Cats and Dogs to Kittens, Alarming Watchdog Report Claims

By Jeanna Bryner, Live Science Managing Editor | March 19, 2019 04:50pm ET
The title of the report says it all, "USDA Kitten Cannibalism." It seems hard to believe, but an investigation by a nonprofit watchdog group reveals that the U.S. government purchased hundreds of cats and dogs for stomach-churning research projects — projects that the watchdog group describes as "needless."
The research, carried out at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service's Animal Parasitic Disease Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, included feeding the remains of euthanized "meat market" animals to healthy lab cats and injecting the remains of parasite-infected cats into mice, according to NBC News, which acquired an early copy of the reportreleased today (March. 19) by The White Coat Waste Project, a group aimed at ending wasteful animal testing.
According to NBC News, the investigation found that more than 400 dogs from Colombia, Brazil and Vietnam, as well as 100 cats from China and Ethiopia, were euthanized for lab food.
Apparently, the lab also breeds kittens in order to carry out research on the parasite Toxoplasma gondii; cats are the only host animal for the parasite's eggs. These cats were fed brain or muscle tissue from intentionally infected cats. This month, lawmakers announced they would introduce legislation to prevent the lab from infecting cats with the parasite and then later euthanizing and incinerating those cats after researchers collected the parasites from the animals' feces, according to another NBC News report.
The parasite T. gondii causes toxoplasmosis, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports as a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States; humans can become infected after consuming food or water contaminated with infected cat feces or from eating undercooked meat of animals harboring cysts of the parasite in their tissue, according to the CDC.

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