Giardia outbreak at SPCA almost over

© Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald While she works, adoption coordinator Maxine Bernier keeps her dog behing glass in this private room.

Staff took serious precautions to prevent the disease from spreading outside the shelter. Adoptions should start again Saturday.

The SPCA plans to open for business as usual Saturday, after an outbreak of giardia forced the animal shelter to spend a week under emergency protocols.

Staff detected the outbreak after they sent out unusual stool for testing. When the tests came back positive last Saturday, the team began treating all of their animals with a five-day regimen of antibiotics. They also adopted special procedures to limit the bacteria’s spread, like boot bleaching and kennel sterilizations.

Giardia is a bacterium that infects the digestive tract, causing diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. It’s transmissible between species, including to humans. To keep the infection from getting out into the community, the shelter has put a halt on all adoptions. They even bleached and closed their outdoor dog runs.

“It’s not something that is super, super serious, but we are airing on the side of caution,” said SPCA executive director Al Dyer. “We don’t want it being transferred out.”

So far, he’s not aware of any cases where staff, outside pets or community members have contracted the illness from the shelter.

The SPCA is regularly overcrowded, with about 175 pets on site right now. That makes it difficult to contain infections.

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