Perplexed by the continuing wave of pet illnesses linked to jerky treats — and with the cause still a mystery — the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is stepping up its investigation and reaching out to veterinarians and pet owners for help.

It said Tuesday that 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have been sickened and hundreds have died since 2007 after eating the treats. Despite extensive investigations in the United States and China, where many of the treats are made, the cause of the illnesses has remained elusive.

The FDA is asking veterinarians and consumers for information and samples that will help in the investigation.

“This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” said Bernadette Dunham, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

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