Beware 'Strep Zoo:' Two Wisconsin Dogs Euthanized After Contracting Illness 'Never Seen Before'

As if dog flu and pet food recalls aren’t worrisome enough for pet owners, there’s a new pet health hazard gaining media attention out of Wisconsin.

On Feb. 14, the Wisconsin Humane Society confirmed that two dogs, an 11-year-old Pomeranian and a 1-year-old shepard mix, tested positive for Streptococcus equi subsp. Zooepidemicus, a.ka. “Strep Zoo.” The canines were located at the Ozaukee campus and both were euthanized, according to Fox6Now.com.

“They weren’t responding to antibiotics or treatment, and they were getting worse,” said Wisconsin Humane Society spokesperson Angela Speed.

WHS reps say Strep Zoo is a rare condition they haven’t seen before, and the facility is making changes and taking precautions — including testing the dogs currently is their care, limiting the intake of more animals, reaching out to infectious disease experts and monitoring their cats — to prevent it from spreading.

As far as symptoms go, if a dog is coughing blood, vomiting or suffering from labored breathing, they should see a veterinarian immediately.

Additionally, “coughing, sneezing, congestion, nasal discharge” are also symptoms to look out for, Nancy Weiss, senior director of veterinarian services at WHS, told Fox6Now.

Strep Zoo is usually treatable with antibiotics, if detected in its early stages. Vets think it can spread through airborne exposure and contact with bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces. There is rare, theoretical evidence that a human could also contract the disease, but statewide, the WHS only knows of one other case, about a decade ago. There is no known vaccine.

Due to the amount of dogs in shelters and their close proximity to one another, Strep Zoo is likely to spread more easily in that setting.

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