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Hernando to allow animal adoptions as rare infection wanes

BROOKSVILLE — A week and a half after an outbreak of a bacterial infection that killed four dogs, Hernando County Animal Services will resume animal adoptions on Monday.

Liana Teague, manager of code enforcement and animal services, said that four dogs taken into the shelter in late February died "suddenly and unexpectedly" between Feb. 25 and March 4. A necropsy on one of the dogs revealed that it had contracted an uncommon respiratory illness known as Streptococcus equi zooepidemicus, or strep zoo.

Teague said shelter workers saw no significant signs of illness before the animals died.

"They were all acting normal and were eating well," Teague said. "It was a complete surprise to us."

Teague said that antibiotics were given to all dogs in the kennel while the shelter waited for laboratory test results. In addition, she reminded staff to take extra precautions to keep from spreading the disease to other areas of the kennel.

In addition, the shelter suspended all adoptions of its animals until the disease could be diagnosed.

A bacterium more often found among horses, strep zoo is rarely found in dogs, said Dr. Brent Moore, a veterinarian at the Animal Medical Clinic in Spring Hill. Moore, who performed the necropsy, said the mixed-breed dog was in relatively good condition otherwise.

"Strep zoo isn't something we know a lot about," Moore said. "It's not common, but you do occasionally see it in kennels where there's a lot of turnover in animals."

Teague said she was unaware of any previous outbreaks of strep zoo at Animal Services and that animals are not routinely screened for the disease.

The strep zoo outbreak came on the heels of a parvovirus outbreak in December that killed 38 Shih Tzus that were part of a group of 65 dogs discovered abandoned in east Hernando County.

Teague said that vaccinations are not routinely given to animals upon intake due to budgetary considerations.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com.

Hernando to allow animal adoptions as rare infection wanes 03/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 7:29pm]
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