A Message from the Vet - June 2014
Feline Panleukopenia

Heard about the recent outbreak of feline panleukopenia on Maui? If your cat has already been vaccinated with a FVRCP vaccine, rest assured. If not, please see your veterinarian and have your cat vaccinated as soon as possible.

FVRCP is the core cat vaccine which protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus), calicivirus, and panleukopenia virus. This vaccine should be given to all kittens starting at 8 weeks of age, and boostered in adult cats every 3 years, even indoor only cats. The recent panleukopenia outbreak on Maui is an example of how damaging viral outbreaks can be in unvaccinated populations of cats.

Feline panleukopenia is highly contagious and often fatal, particularly in young unvaccinated cats. Similar to canine parvovirus, its most common symptoms are fever, depression, inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. The virus is spread though saliva, urine, feces, and blood of both sick and recovered animals, and survives for a long period in the environment. You may inadvertently bring the virus home on your shoes or clothing if you have interacted with other cats or walked through an area exposed to cats.

If you believe your cat may be sick with panleukopenia, you should bring your cat to see a veterinarian right away. Aggressive fluid therapy and supportive nursing care is important to improve chances of survival. In severe cases, a blood or plasma transfusion may be needed. Other diseases that may look like panleukopenia are salmonella infections, feline leukemia, or feline immunodeficiency virus.

Preventing panleukopenia in your cat is as simple as keeping your cat up to date on vaccinations and keeping your cat indoors. Reduce your risk of bringing this virus home by not handling or encouraging unvaccinated feral cats to visit your property. Call your veterinarian if you want to check if your cat is up to date on his or her vaccines, or if you have further questions about this preventable disease.

Jill Yoshicedo, DVM

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Last updated 2014 June 21.