Deadly virus affecting cats.

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Leeton Veterinary Hospital
Farm 441, 41 Yanco Avenue
NSW 2705

02 6953 3111
02 6953 2793

As many people may have seen in the news there have been several outbreaks of a disease called Feline Panleukopenia, sometimes called Feline Enteritis or Feline Distemper. Despite the different names panleukopenia is caused by the Feline Parvovirus, which is related to the virus that causes the devastating Canine Parvo. Feline Panleukopenia is an ‘old’ disease, it has been around for many years and it used to cause the death of a large number of cats. However after the development of an extremely effective vaccination the occurrence of panleukopenia rapidly decreased. In recent times vaccination numbers in cats have dropped of and as a result we have seen a resurgence of this disease.

Panleukopenia is an extremely resistant virus which can survive in the environment for many months. Cats can contract the virus through physical contact with infected cats, or they can pick it up from the environment. Infected cats can shed the virus from all body secretions, though it is shed most commonly and prolifically in the faeces.

There are two forms of panleukopenia, and these depend on when the cat is infected. Kittens that are born from infected mothers will have Cerebellar hypoplasia, this means that a part of their brain either doesn’t develop at all, or only partially develops. The results of this are that the kittens have no fine motor control, meaning that they wobble and over-exaggerate all their movements. Mild cases can live a relatively normal life with good home care, however severe cases will struggle to eat of drink and often require euthanasia.

The second, more common, form of panleukopenia is that seen in young cats and kittens that become infected after birth. The signs are varied. Some cats will be found dead, when they were well the day before. Other cats will present with a fever, depression, anorexia and vomiting. These cats will rapidly dehydrate and frequently develop secondary infections.

There is no treatment for cats infected with panleukopenia. Supportive care, in the form of intravenous fluids, electrolyte supplements and antibiotics are required to prevent dehydration and secondary infection long enough for the cat’s immune system to recover and respond to the infection. This can take several days or weeks, depending on the severity of the disease and the speed in which the cat responds to infection.

Prevention of panleukopenia is simple –Vaccination!The panleukopenia vaccine is considered a core vaccination in Australia, which means it is included in all cat vaccines along with two strains of cat flu Feline Calicivirus and Feline Rhinotracheitis virus.

To check your cats vaccination status, or to book your cat in for vaccination against panleukopenia call the Leeton Veterinary Hospital on 6953 3111.

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