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Lab Solves Mystery Behind Contaminated Pet Food Outbreak in Southeast Asia in 2004

Narrator: This is Science Today. The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at the University of California, Davis was the first to identify the lethal mix of chemicals behind last year's deadly pet food contamination. Veterinary toxicologist Robert Poppenga says they were recently contacted by a pathologist investigating a 2004 outbreak in southeast Asia that also caused kidney failure in dogs and cats.

Poppenga: They found the same type of lesion in the kidneys - these crystals, but they never actually solved the problem back in 2004. It was related to a pet food, there were literally hundreds of animals that were presumed to have died and so this South Korean pathologist actually had some archived tissue from 2004 that they had not gotten rid of, they sent it to us. We were able to find melamine and cyanuric acid in that tissue from 2004, which indicates that the problem back in 2004 was probably related to the same thing that occurred in 2007 and that if the cause had been determined back in 2004, then we probably would not have had the problem in 2007 in this country.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.