Virginia and Maryland are two of the 23 states affected by the product recall of aflatoxin contaminated dog food by Meta, Missouri based Diamond Pet Foods, but veterinarians in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine report that they have not treated any cases at the Blacksburg-based veterinary teaching hospital at Virginia Tech that are believed to be related to the problem.

Some estimates suggest at least 100 animals are believed to have succumbed to liver problems caused by dog food that was produced at the firm’s Gaston, S.C., facility and an unknown number of dogs have been sickened.

Clinical signs of aflatoxicosis include loss of appetite, yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, the animal can experience liver failure and die. If an animal has ingested Diamond Pet Food products and is showing some of these clinical signs, owners are advised to take the animal to a veterinarian for evaluation.

Only some Diamond brand dog food is believed to be affected by the aflatoxin contamination, and officials at the veterinary college advise animal owners to follow the instructions provided by the company by contacting the Diamond Pet Foods Customer Information Center toll-free at 1-866-214-6945 or by visiting their web site at www.diamondpet.com in order to ascertain the safety of Diamond products that they may be using. The information center is open between 8 a.m. and midnight EST.

Aflatoxin is a mycotoxin, or fungal toxin, produced by the organism Aspergillus flavus. Aspergillus is a mold that most commonly grows on corn grown during the dry and arid conditions of a drought, according to Dennis Blodgett, a veterinary toxicologist who is board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology. Testing for aflatoxin is frequently done at mills and at feed manufacturing sites; however, contaminated corn can occasionally slip through the system because the toxin has been known to accumulate in “hot-spots” in a batch, thereby evading detection through random sampling.