This is from Dr. Sara Pizano, who runs the department, and should answer everyone's lingering questions about the nasty, killer bug that laid siege to the shelter reccently, forcing a lockdown. Thank heaven THAT'S over.
- How many animals were euthanized (infected or not) as a result of the recent outbreak?
- 8 out of the dogs we suspect had the Strep infection were euthanized and 7 were found dead
- If a person had a pet on hold, they were educated in detail about the outbreak and the risks of taking the pet. Some people said they still wanted to adopt so we had them sign a medical release and everyone left on antibiotics.
- Many pets went to rescue and left on antibiotics. All rescue group contacts and pullers received the daily e-mail updates
- Some pets were reclaimed by their owners and they were also educated and sent home with antibiotics.
- If there were no owners, adopters or rescues to pull, those exposed pets were euthanized after their stray hold. The only difference between a normal week and last week is that we did not keep them beyond their stray hold period due to the exposure risk to other shelter pets. We keep as many pets in adoptions for as long as we can.
Are there any new measures or protocols implemented at the shelter that will require vaccinating all or most animals as they come in? Out of the 11 dogs who were infected with Strep, 2 tested positive for Canine Influenza. There are no vaccines for either problem. The other vaccines (Bordetella, booster with parvo, distemper, etc.) are not effective immediately. Even if every pet was vaccinated on intake they could still get sick from those diseases as it takes a few weeks for the vaccine to protect them. All pets going up for adoption do receive their vaccines on intake to include Bordetella, but many still get kennel cough. Unfortunately, there is no immediate protection and in addition, young animals need a series of boosters over a period of months to be protected. The problem is that housing so many animals in a confined space creates stress and when they are exposed to infectious disease, are very prone to becoming ill.
The Strep zoo can be found in the normal bacterial flora of a dog’s mouth. There is no way to prevent this invasion of the lung tissue as we do not know yet what the trigger is. We have thorough sanitation protocols, disease surveillance and extensive staff training. The problem is that when so many dogs are housed together, diseases that are spread via the air are impossible to control 100% especially in an inadequate building.
What are the signs for the Step zoo infection? How can we tell the difference between Strep zoo, distemper, kennel cough, etc.? Most of the dogs who died from the Strep zoo had mild respiratory signs that mimicked the other respiratory diseases so you cannot tell the difference without extensive diagnostics or until other more critical signs develop. Unfortunately, the Strep zoo is so aggressive and virulent, it kills the dog within 6-12 hours.
Why did you allow rescue groups to pull animals who went to the west coast? Those animals should have stayed in Miami.
Regardless of that recommendation, rescue groups will choose to send animals where they wish. Everyone pulling animals or adopting was educated about the risks we knew about and the unknown risks of exposing other animals. The alternative would have been to euthanize all exposed animals and we did not want to do that.
Is what happened at Lee County the same thing that happened in Miami?
Unfortunately, South Florida is the hotbed for infectious diseases and distemper, influenza, etc. are endemic to our area. Lee County was seeing a Corona Virus that infected the respiratory tract. This was a different strain that infects the intestines and the vaccine available does not protect the respiratory tract.
Has this happened before in Miami? Strep zoo was never diagnosed here before and no dogs have been seen with these clinical signs in the last 8 years.