More than 30 dogs showing symptoms of 'Strep Zoo' at Arizona animal shelter

MESA, AZ - Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in Arizona said at least one dog has died at one of its locations due to a contagious upper respiratory infection circulating their shelter.

According to MCACC spokesman Jose Miguel Santiago, Streptococcus Zooepidemicus, often referred to as “Strep Zoo,” is treatable if caught in the early stages. 

As of Sunday morning, at least one dog had died after testing positive for “Strep Zoo” and they’re waiting for test results for another pup that recently passed away. 

More than 30 other dogs at the shelter are also showing similar symptoms of “Strep Zoo” and are undergoing treatment. 

While “Strep Zoo” can be transferred from canine to canine, it can also be transferred to felines, and in some cases humans with suppressed immune symptoms.

The disease can worsen in stressful environments, which could be why the outbreak occurred in the shelter, Santiago explained.

As a result of the incident, MCACC is extending their free adoption event for larger breeds through Friday, Jan. 26 in order to free up as much space as possible as a precaution.

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

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