Seresto, one of the most popular flea and tick collars in the country, has been linked to hundreds of pet deaths, tens of thousands of injured animals and hundreds of harmed humans, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents show.
But according to USA Today, the EPA has done nothing to inform the public of the risks.
Seresto, developed by Bayer and now sold by Elanco, works by releasing small amounts of pesticide onto the animal for months at a time. The pesticide is supposed to kill fleas, ticks and other pests but be safe for cats and dogs.
Federal documents obtained by Center for Biological Diversity show that thousands of pets are being harmed. The center provided the documents to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
Since Seresto flea and tick collars were introduced in 2012, the EPA has received incident reports of at least 1,698 related pet deaths according to USA Today. Overall, through June 2020, the agency has received more than 75,000 incident reports related to the collars, including nearly 1,000 involving human harm.
The EPA is in charge of regulating products that contain pesticides. The agency has known about these incidents for years but has not informed the public of the potential risks associated with this product, Karen McCormack, a retired EPA employee who worked as both a scientist and communications officer, told USA Today.
McCormack said the collars have the most incidents of any pesticide pet product she’s ever seen. She said, “The EPA appears to be turning a blind eye to this problem, and after seven years of an increasing number of incidents, they are telling the public that they are continuing to monitor the situation, but I think this is a significant problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.”
The EPA declined to say how Seresto compares to other pet products. But in response to a question about whether the product is safe, an agency spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the two pesticides in Seresto have “been found eligible for continued registration” based on best available science, including incident data.
TheEPA spokesman said in a statement, “No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk. The product label is the law, and applicators must follow label directions. Some pets, however, like some humans, are more sensitive than others and may experience adverse symptoms after treatment.”
Pet collars are big business. In its 2019 annual report, German agribusiness and pharmaceutical company Bayer reported revenue of more than $300 million on Seresto alone.