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More Than 30 Shelter Dogs Show Symptoms Of Potentially Deadly “Strep Zoo” Infection

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Maricopa County Animal Care and Control‘s east Valley shelter is battling a highly contagious and potentially deadly upper respiratory infection. More than 30 dogs are currently displaying symptoms.

Officials say at least one dog passed away after testing positive for the bacterium, Streptococcus Zooepidemicus, commonly referred to as “Strep Zoo.” Test results for two other recently deceased dogs are pending.

Strep Zoo is treatable if caught in its early stages and all of the symptomatic dogs have been put on antibiotics, says MCACC spokesman, Jose Miguel Santiago.

The outbreak has prompted the shelter to extend their free adoption event through Friday, January 26 in an effort to free up as much space as possible in preparation for a possible quarantine.

MCACC is also encouraging anyone who has recently adopted a dog from the east shelter to have it tested for Strep Zoo and started on antibiotics immediately. Any affected dog should be kept isolated from other household pets – including cats – until their symptoms subside.

The infection is most commonly transferred from dog to dog, but can also affect cats and even humans with compromised immune systems, according to Santiago.

Strep Zoo is thought to worsen in stressful environments, which may be why outbreaks occur in shelter settings.

Symptoms of “Strep Zoo” include:

Coughing
Nasal discharge
Vomiting
Labored breathing
Coughing blood

MCACC Executive Director Mary Martin released the following letter as a result of the disease:

Today, the East Valley shelter veterinarians confirmed the death of a dog in our care due to Streptococcus zooepidemicus. This bacterium can have a devastating impact on shelter dogs and cats. For this reason, we are taking this diagnosis very seriously. In an effort to keep everyone informed, we are sending you preliminary information and promise to continue to provide you updates as they happen.

What we know: We have one confirmed case and a second likely to be confirmed on Monday.

What we are doing so far:

  • Shutting down playgroups until further notice at East
  • Shutting down non-mandated services at East. Adoptions will continue with information provided to adopters. (In progress)
  • Press conference on Sunday to let the community know the bacteria is here so local veterinarians and others can be on the lookout.
  • Funding agreed to for treatment — paid for by Two Pups Wellness Fund.
  • Funding for more transports — paid for by Arizona Animal Rescue Mission, so that if we need to shut down the East facility, we can get animals out of the Durango Animal Care Center to make room for all new intakes.

You will have questions; this is not meant to give you all the answers just to give you a heads up that much more may be coming.

Please use caution if you are a foster. Do not bring animals to the East Valley shelter. If you walk dogs, continue but clean your leashes between or use multiple leashes. A protocol will follow as soon as we can get to it. Careful enrichment is important because stress is a contributor to the severity of the disease.

Here is a link to a video that will outline the disease.

In gratitude,

Mary Martin
Director, Maricopa Animal Care Centers

The east Valley location is:
2630 W. Rio Salado Parkway
Loop 101 & Rio Salado Parkway
Mesa, AZ 85201

 

H/T to ABC 15 Arizona

Featured Image via Facebook/Maricopa County Animal Care & Control

 

Written by Dina Fantegrossi
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