Fleas and ticks can carry Lyme disease, making them dangerous, and even potentially fatal, to us all, but especially to dogs who spend a lot of time outside and in whose fur fleas and ticks like to burrow. But when it comes to a certain flea and tick collar, could the protection against fleas and ticks be worse than the dangers posed by the bugs themselves?

Elanco Animal Health is an Indiana-based pharmaceutical company that makes medications and vaccines for animals, including Seresto flea and tick collars. After almost 1,700 incidents of pet deaths and about 900 humans harmed, all of which were reported as having been linked to the Seresto flea and tick collars, Elanco is now facing a class action lawsuit filed by consumers who allege their dogs were either harmed or killed by the collars, as well as a congressional investigation.

According to Karen McCormack, a former employee of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EPA has known about the possible link between the flea and tick collars and the hundreds of deaths associated with the collar but allegedly failed to inform the public of the potential link.

Instead, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and USA TODAY made public the thousands of incidents of harm to pets and humans that have been linked with the flea and tick collars. As a result of this reporting, the congressional subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy started their own investigation into the collars. The chairman of the committee, Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois), sent a letter to Elanco asking them to voluntarily recall the collars and refund customers. He also sent a letter to Bayer, the original creator and owner of the collars, asking them to release information about the potential toxicity of the product.

Bayer, the German-based pharmaceutical company, sold its Animal Health division (including the Seresto collar) to Elanco for $7.5 billion in 2020. The year before, Bayer reported that the flea and tick collar brought in annual revenues of more than $300 million.

A spokesperson for Elanco has said the company has sold more than 25 million of the flea and tick collars, which means even thousands of reports of harm to pets and humans makes for an incident report of 0.3%. Furthermore, that same spokesperson has said the company has investigated each and every one of the reported incidents and found no evidence to suggest the harm or deaths were caused by the collars.

The class action lawsuit against the company claims otherwise. The two named plaintiffs of the lawsuit both bought Seresto collars for their dogs. One dog had to have emergency surgery to remove a lump near the collar that turned out to be cancerous. The other dog died just five days after a veterinary check-up showed a perfect bill of health, and about a month after it started wearing the flea and tick collar.

One of the named plaintiffs lives in Pennsylvania, while the other lives in Los Angeles, California. The class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court of California in Los Angeles.

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