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IPFS News Link • Pandemic

After 3 dogs die of mysterious illness, county animal care agency tries to beat disease

•, Chris Persaud

Three dogs in agency care succumbed to the "Strep Zoo" bacterium within hours of showing symptoms such as coughing and tiredness, the agency said last week in a news statement. Known scientifically as streptococcus zooepidemicus, the pathogen attacks dogs' lungs, bloodying them.

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control staff gave all its dogs a special antibiotic on Wednesday, Dec. 13, to protect them from Strep Zoo, director Jan Steele said. Meanwhile, the agency was not accepting dogs at the end of last week and over the weekend; it planned to begin accepting dogs again on Monday, Dec. 18.

All three victims in the county pound were 40- to 50-pound mixed-breeds, Steele said. Strep Zoo first got Mimi, a tan, dark-faced, 3-year-old. Animal Care staff noticed on Sunday, Dec. 10, that she walked stiffly, seemed tired and had trouble breathing. They tried treating her, but she died within hours, Steele said.

Mimi's kennel mate, a black floppy-eared 8-month-old named Marcus, caught it next. So did a gray-and-white 2-year-old two cages away named Africa.

Animal Care performed necropsies on the canines to determine why they died. The agency sent tissue samples from the canines to the University of Florida for testing, which determined Strep Zoo killed Mimi, Marcus and Africa, the same pathogen causing outbreaks and deaths in animal shelters across the U.S. since last month.

Animal Care has sent more tissue samples from other dogs to UF to see if Strep Zoo infected more canines.