Wisconsin - Veterinarians in the rural Midwest were warned of a possible new trend - teen-aged girls reportedly taking veterinary medications meant to induce abortion in cows to perform their own abortions.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued an advisory on its Web site after hearing that the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association alerted the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to the trend, apparently a way for girls to end unwanted pregnancies without the cost of an abortion or having their parents find out.
The drugs listed in the AAHA warning include Prostaglandins, Cystorelin, Factrel, Gonadorelin and Lutalyse. Veterinarians must be vigilant in storing, prescribing and using veterinary products that can harm humans in light of this most recent trend, cautions AAHA.
Not many cases are documented to date, and a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin says the group is just now hearing about the problem.
"It might be premature to call it a trend," she says, adding the group is looking deeper into the issue.
But the AVMA has been on the alert since the advisory from Wisconsin.
"It something we're really concerned about, because it's very dangerous and extremely painful for the girl," says AVMA spokesman Tom McPheron. "It's not what the drug is designed for, and it's extremely hazardous to the girl's health."
"At this point, it's really just rumors," says Dr. Kimberly May of the AVMA. "But that's still a reason for concern."
The Wisconsin Health Department has not documented any cases of women using the drugs, she says, but the AVMA fears media attention could give some teens ideas.
The drugs reportedly being used are indicated for synchronizing heat cycles and streamlining the breeding process, May says. As a result, it's not uncommon to find the drugs in a producer's barn. It's not a regulated drug that needs to be locked up, either, says May, and many veterinary clinics in the Midwest employ teens.
"Our biggest message at this point is to tell our members that just the rumors are enough to make them have to be more vigilant when prescribing, or even storing, prescriptions like this," May says. "It's just a matter of being very cautious."