We were discussing on chat last night Panleukopenia regarding an animal control facility that was fighting with this horrible disease and the question was asked about more info. This is a life threatening disease to your cat that can be prevented with proper vaccinations! We hope you will read the whole thing! Thank you Jill Sparapany for getting this for us :)
Feline Panleukopenia Virus
This is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening virus to cats! It is a highly contagious viral disease in the parvovirus group and has a very high mortality rate. After exposure, within 24 hours, the virus is in the cat’s bloodstream. Within 48 hours, the cat’s body tissue is infected. Between 2 to 4 days, the white blood cell count begins to fall. This is known as feline distemper and lesser known as cat typhoid or cat fever. Frequently, diarrhea is present and this disease is also called Feline “Infectious Enteritis.”
** This is NOT the same virus as the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)!! Totally different virus and totally different disease!
** This is NOT the same disease as Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). Enteritis refers to a gastro-intestinal illness, inside the GI tract. Peritonitis is an infection in the abdomen and may affect other organs.
** The feline parvovirus is related to the canine parvovirus only by genus, Parvoviridae, but it is not the same viral species; therefore, it is not communicable to dogs and feline distemper is NOT related to canine distemper.
The virus affects the rapidly dividing cells in the body – the blood cells in the bone marrow, the intestinal tract and the stem cells of the developing fetus. With decreased white blood cells, the cat is at high risk for infections from other viruses or bacteria. The lower red blood cell count, resulting from bone marrow infection, leads to anemia. Lower WBC’s and RBC’s compromise the health of the cat, making recovery very difficult, contributing to the high mortality rate.
· Diarrhea, which may have blood
· Loss of appetite, complete loss of interest in food
· Anemia and weakness
· Nasal or eye discharge
· Rough hair coat
· Skin elasticity is decreased with dehydration
· Depression, hiding for a day or two
· Hanging their head over water or food bowl, but does not drink or eat
· Feet tucked under body or chin resting on floor for long periods
· Neurological symptoms with viral infection in the brain (i.e. lack of coordination)
· Sudden death, in kittens with severe infection
The best way to prevent transmission of this deadly virus is by vaccination. Incubation time from infection to clinical signs is usually 3 to 5 days.
It is passed by contact with an infected cat’s saliva, urine, feces, fleas, blood, nasal discharge, food and water dishes, bedding and cages. Since diarrhea is a major symptom, the most common transmission vehicle is through the feces. The parvovirus is resistant to disinfectants and can remain in the environment for one year.
If your cat has been diagnosed with panleukopenia disease, clean and disinfect all the areas the cat has been using bleach or disinfectant recommended by your vet since this virus is very resilient. Wear gloves when caring for an infected cat. Dispose of all litter boxes and food and water bowls safely.
Shelters and boarding facilities may harbor the virus, increasing your pet’s risk when you board them while you are on vacation.
Pregnant cats transmit the disease to kittens in utero. When this occurs, kittens can be born with severe birth defects which include still births, brain damage, blindness and muscle or nerve damage. Infected kittens usually do not show signs of being ill but the disease is fatal within the first five days of infection.
Kittens can also acquire this deadly disease via breast milk.
Unvaccinated kittens and feral cats are the most common victims of the disease. All cat breeds are susceptible.
Medical and exposure risk history will be taken. Feline Panleukopenia disease mimics many other disease conditions – poisoning, feline leukemia disease (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency disease (FIV) and pancreatitis – are just a few. The importance of a very detailed history cannot be stressed enough so appropriate treatment can be initiated ASAP.
Lab work includes a CBC, biochemistry panel and urinalysis. Typically, there will be decreased white and red blood cells. A fecal specimen may show microscopic remnants of the parvovirus. The SNAP parvo test is not as reliable for diagnosis in cats as it is in other pets.
Dehydration and shock are life-threatening and require intensive care and IV fluid therapy. Restoration of fluid and electrolyte balance is critical.
If your cat is treated promptly and effectively and survives the first 48 hours, it is likely your cat will recover. Once a cat has had FP disease, it has lifetime immunity.
There is no specific treatment for FPV. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses but may be prescribed prophylactically to prevent secondary opportunistic bacterial infections that are common with low WBC’s and lower immunity.
With aggressive supportive care, if the cat survives the acute illness phase, prognosis for full recovery is good.
Your cat will still need good supportive care at home. Provide a quiet, warm place for your pet to recover, away from active areas in the home, other animals and active children. Place food and water dishes close by to reduce unnecessary exertion. Also have the litter box close. Your cat will need to be isolated from other cats during the acute illness phase.
Your cat will need extra attention from you during recovery. This infection has a depressing effect on a cat’s physical and mental health so affection and comfort will help your pet during the recovery time.
After contact with your sick cat, practice strict hygiene and hand washing. Make sure to clean surfaces that your sick cat comes in contact with.
It may take several weeks for your cat to feel completely back to normal.
Once your cat has been exposed to this virus and had the immune response to it, your cat will be immune from acquiring it again. Also, your cat will not pass the virus after the initial episode.
If your other cats have not been vaccinated, you will need to have them vaccinated to prevent them from becoming ill.
Unvaccinated pregnant cats are at highest risk for fatal complications due to pregnancy related immune compromise. The developing fetuses are very like to be born with severe developmental dysfunctions.
Kittens need to be vaccinated when they receive the other core vaccines. The first vaccine should be given at 8-10 weeks of age. The first booster is given four weeks later. The second booster vaccination is recommended around 16 weeks of age.
Vaccinations every one to three years is strongly recommended.
Molly liking all the box with gifts in them!
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