Alert from Susan Thixton of

I have been alerted to a potential human health risk for employees of kibble manufacturing or rendering facilities and potentially to family members of these employees. This is a attempt to informally survey employees or family members and as well informally survey residents within a 1 mile radius of kibble manufacturing or a rendering facility.
Background: Multiple employees of kibble manufacturing have been diagnosed with tularemia. The disease is most commonly believed to be spread by ticks who have previously bitten an infected animal. However, from the Centers for Disease Control “Humans can acquire tularemia by inhaling dust or aerosols contaminated with F. tularensis bacteria. This can occur during farming or landscaping activities, especially when machinery (e.g. tractors or mowers) runs over infected animals or carcasses. Although rare, this type of exposure can result in pneumonic tularemia, one of the most severe forms of the disease.”
It is suspected that these pet food manufacturing employees obtained the disease from breathing ‘dust’ of meat meal ingredients in the pet food, each had no other potential exposure risk.
Tularemia is a ‘reportable disease’ – meaning doctors are required to report positive results to local health officials (Health Department) who in turn reports the disease to the Centers for Disease Control.
There are two problems…
One: Tularemia is not easily recognized and diagnosed. The individuals that I have spoken with who were diagnosed went through a barrage of other testing – some for months – when doctors finally tested for tularemia. They felt it was just “luck” for doctors to find the cause of their illness.
Two: Centers for Disease Control have not investigated the potential link of meat meal pet food ingredients that are allowed by FDA to contain diseased/non-slaughtered animals – of significant risk to spread the disease.

Symptoms of tularemia include…

  • Difficulty breathing, cough
  • Muscle pain, aches
  • Some can have elevated white blood cell counts
  • Abdominal pain
  • Some have lumps raise across the chest, back, neck and head
If you or anyone you know that has worked at a kibble pet food manufacturing plant and/or a rendering facility, lived near or worked near the same and you have had the above symptoms, please share your story with me. Symptoms can come and go or remain consistent. Left untreated, this illness can be deadly.
If you or anyone you know that has worked at a kibble pet food manufacturing plant and/or a rendering facility, lived near or worked near the same and you have been diagnosed with tularemia, please share your story with me.
Please use the contact form on this website to reach me. All identities will remain anonymous, but overall results of this informal survey will be shared with Centers for Disease Control.
If you have experienced any of these health conditions – difficulty breathing, cough, muscle aches, abdominal pains – please contact me.
Again, we have confirmed cases of tularemia of multiple employees of kibble pet food manufacturing. This is not to say with certainty these individuals obtained the disease from exposure to contaminated ingredients at the pet food plant – it is only suspected. This informal survey is an attempt to gather more information in an effort to try to urge officials to investigate the issue fully.

As a side note – cats and dogs can as well become ill from tularemia. It is most commonly believed the disease is spread to pets from either a tick bite or consuming a contaminated dead wild animal (such as a rabbit). With the confirmation of pet food manufacturing employees contracting tularemia, I have to wonder if the disease could also be spread through pet food. At this point in time, we do not know if that risk exists."

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food