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Published Date: 2019-10-31 06:41:43
Subject: PRO/AH> Feline panleukopenia - USA (03): (PA) alert
Archive Number: 20191031.6754907
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Tue 29 Oct 2019
Source: Fox56 [edited]

A warning for pet caretakers after 14 cats were found dead in 2 clusters in Luzerne County. The details of those exact locations are not yet being released. The SPCA [Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] says people were concerned about possible poisoning, but it turns out the cats all had panleukopenia.

The virus is easily spread through direct contact or bodily fluids, which could include shared food bowls. It can linger for a while on surfaces and can kill within days.

The SPCA urges people to get their cats the distemper combo vaccine. This provides immunity from the virus. Once the cat is showing signs, like vomiting or drooling, it could be too late to help them.

[byline: Viktoria Hallikaar]

communicated by:

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Pennsylvania: http://healthmap.org/promed/p/8162
Pennsylvania county map: https://www.mapsofworld.com/usa/states/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-county-map.html
Luzerne County is a county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 906 square miles (2350 km2), of which 890 square miles (2300 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) is water. It is north eastern Pennsylvania's 2nd-largest county by total area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 320,918, making it the most populous county in the northeastern part of the state. The county seat and largest city is Wilkes-Barre.

This article does not tell us if this was a wild colony, if these animals were dumped, or what other situation may be occurring with these cats. Typically we see this disease in shelters with unvaccinated cats, in over-crowded and/or unvaccinated colonies of cats or in unvaccinated litters. But 14 cats dead with no explanation is very odd. However, this virus can be nasty to cats so please, please, include this disease as one of the core vaccines your cat receives.

The following information is from the American Veterinary Medical Association (https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/feline-panleukopenia.aspx):

What is feline panleukopenia?
" - Feline panleukopenia (FP) is a highly contagious viral disease of cats caused by the feline parvovirus. Kittens are most severely affected by the virus. The names feline distemper and feline parvo should not be confused with canine distemper or canine parvo -- although their names are similar, they are caused by different viruses. The viruses do not infect people.
- The feline parvovirus infects and kills cells that are rapidly growing and dividing, such as those in the bone marrow, intestines, and the developing fetus.
- In the past, feline panleukopenia (FP) was a leading cause of death in cats. Today, it is an uncommon disease, due in large part to the availability and use of very effective vaccines. The disease is also called feline distemper or feline parvo.

How does it spread?
"Cats can shed the virus in their urine, stool, and nasal secretions; infection occurs when susceptible cats come in contact with these secretions, or even the fleas from infected cats. An infected cat tends to shed the virus for a relatively short period of time (1-2 days), but the virus can survive for up to a year in the environment, so cats may become infected without ever coming into direct contact with an infected cat. Bedding, cages, food dishes, and the hands or clothing of people who handle the infected cat may harbor the virus and transmit it to other cats. It is, therefore, very important to isolate infected cats. Any materials used on or for infected cats should not be used or allowed to come in contact with other cats, and people handling infected cats should practice proper hygiene to prevent spreading the infection. The virus that causes FP is difficult to destroy and resistant to many disinfectants. Ideally, unvaccinated cats should not be allowed into an area where an infected cat has been -- even if the area has been disinfected.

Clinical signs
"The 1st visible signs an owner might notice include generalized depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration. Sick cats may sit for long periods of time in front of their water bowls but not drink much water. In some cats, the fever will come and go during the illness and abruptly fall to lower-than-normal levels shortly before death. In young kittens, the virus can also damage the brain and the eyes.

Are some cats more susceptible?
"While cats of any age may be infected with the feline parvovirus that causes FP, young kittens, sick cats, and unvaccinated cats are most susceptible. It is most commonly seen in cats 3-5 months of age; death from FP is more common at this age.

How can FP be prevented?
"Cats that survive an infection develop immunity which likely protects them for the rest of their lives. Mild cases that go unnoticed will also produce immunity from future infection.

"It is also possible for kittens to receive temporary immunity through the transfer of antibodies in the colostrum -- the 1st milk produced by the mother. This is called "passive immunity," and how long it protects the kittens from infection depends upon the levels of protective antibodies produced by the mother. It rarely lasts longer than 12 weeks.

"Prevention is vital to your cat's health. Today, there are vaccines that offer the best protection from feline parvovirus infection. Vaccination is equally important for strictly indoor cats as well as indoor/outdoor cats because the virus is everywhere in the environment. Most young kittens receive their 1st vaccination between 6 and 8 weeks of age and follow-up vaccines are given until the kitten is around 16 weeks of age. Adult vaccination schedules vary with the age and health of the cat, as well as the risk of FP in the area. Consult your veterinarian for advice on an appropriate vaccination schedule for your cat(s)."
- Mod.TG]

See Also

Feline panleukopenia - USA (02): (TN) 20180927.6054740
Feline panleukopenia - USA: need for vaccination 20180715.5907149
Panleukopenia virus, feline - USA (02): (NC) animal shelter, alert 20170908.5302524
Panleukopenia virus, feline - USA: (GA) cat shelter 20170628.5137290
Panleukopenia virus, feline - USA: (MA) 20161021.4574695
Panleukopenia virus, feline - Australia: (VI) 20150430.3332544
Panleukopenia virus, feline - USA (MI) 20040810.2203

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