Dr. Anna M. Platt, supervisor of the Virology Lab at the Animal Disease Laboratory in Centralia, IL, issued an alert several months ago pertaining to Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome in dogs. Early symptoms of this disease are depression, weakness, rigor, high body temperature, shock, blood in the feces and urine, with rapid progression to coughing up blood and severe bruising of the skin.
Dogs can appear normal in the morning, by mid-day be showing lethargy, and then die within two to four hours. The route of infection is inhalation of Streptococcal organisms. Treatment is effective if IV injection of Penicillin G or other appropriate antibiotics is initiated promptly. Drugs such as Baytril are of little benefit because they are primarily for gram negative bacteria.
Cases reported to Dr. Platt suggested that there is usually a stress factor present, including participation in dog shows, estrus, change of environment, shipping, etc. As of April, the syndrome had been confirmed at all Florida greyhound racetracks. Cases had also been reported in Alabama, Texas, Kansas, New York and Wisconsin.
Streptococcal Toxic Shock was subject of an article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 209, #8, October 15, 1966. Although not a new disease, it never hurts to be aware of its presence, mode of transmission, and preferred treatment, particularly if your dog has been subject to any of the stresses described above.
In any case, it's always wise to talk with your vet about the activities you participate in with your dog. The majority of dogs seen in most veterinary practices are single pets who spend their days confined to the house or back yard. This is the norm. If you do something different with your dog, it's always wise to discuss vaccine protocols and other types of veterinary care with your vet reminding him or her of any special situations -- whether they are activities you engage in or the number of dogs your Norfolks come in contact with on a regular basis. Don't assume your vet remembers that your dog's needs may be different from most others who frequent the practice.
ANTIC, September, 1999
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