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Two dogs test positive for "Strep Zoo" at Wisconsin Humane Society's Ozaukee Campus

Posted at 1:44 PM, Feb 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-14 23:48:09-05

MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin Humane Society has confirmed that two dogs at their Ozaukee Campus have tested positive for Streptococcus equi subsp. Zooepidemicus – also known as “Strep Zoo.”

According to a news release from the Humane Society, one of the dogs had also been housed at the Milwaukee Campus, but WHS has no evidence of exposure at their other locations in Racine, Green Bay, or Door County.

Strep Zoo is a potentially lethal respiratory infection for dogs. However, if caught in the early stages, it is usually treatable with antibiotics.  It is believed to be spread through airborne exposure, contact with bodily fluids and contaminated surfaces. Although it is rare, there is still theoretical evidence that the illness could be transmitted to a human.  This is the first instance WHS has had in recent history with dogs testing positive for this pathogen.   

The Wisconsin Humane Society has stopped taking surrenders at its Ozaukee County and Milwaukee campuses until an infection Streptococcus equi subsp. Zooepidemicus - also known as "Strep Zoo" is contained.

Pet owners wonder what they can do after two dogs die from a rare respiratory infection.

"That would be really sad, worrisome," said Jackie Muirhead who adopted a dog two months ago.

"It's alarming," said Silvia Ramirez who already recently adopted a dog. "It kind of makes me wonder if I want to bring them here to the dog park."

The Wisconsin Humane Society spokesperson Angela Speed said there is no vaccine but Strep Zoo can be treated if it is caught early. But for a Pomeranian and Shepard mix at the shelter they were sick for too long.

"This is not an outbreak and there is no need to be panicked for your dogs at home," said Speed. "We are however taking especially cautious and conservative approach as its an illness we've never seen before and it can be quite serious."

The Humane Society said one of the infected dogs was at the Milwaukee facility four to six weeks ago and then moved to Saukville with another infected dog.  People who have adopted dogs in that time period now need to watch for symptoms.

"If somebody did recently adopt a dog or a puppy from the Humane Society and their animal is showing any signs of respiratory illness they should see their veterinarian right away," said Speed.

Symptoms of the disease include:

  • coughing
  • nasal discharge
  • vomiting
  • labored breathing
  • coughing blood

Ramirez adopted her dog just six months ago from the Humane Society. She regularly comes to the Milwaukee dog parks. She hopes with Strep Zoo out there dog owners to also help protect each other.

"I just hope that if those pet owners know their dog or pet has anything that could be exposed to other pets they wouldn't bring them to areas like this," said Ramirez.

 There is no vaccine to prevent Strep Zoo.

“We will continue to keep the public updated as we learn more, or if anything changes,” said Anne Reed, President & CEO of WHS. “We’re incredibly grateful to the community’s support of the animals in our care – it’s what makes it possible for us to respond quickly and effectively to situations like this.”
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