Since the 1970’s, vigilant use of feline core vaccines has resulted in strong herd immunity against feline enteritis (FPV), also known as panleukopaenia, caused by a parvovirus. Cases of the virus, which causes fevers, vomiting and dreadful diarrhoea, were almost unheard of.
However, there has been a re-emergence of the potentially fatal enteritis over the last few years, with three outbreaks in Victoria between 2013 and 2015 claiming the lives of around 200 cats. Over the last month, shelter-based outbreaks of the disease have been reported in both New South Wales and Queensland, including Blacktown Pound in Sydney’s west. At another shelter the infection claimed the lives of five out of seven cats in one litter, before the virus was identified, enabling appropriate treatment of the other two kittens.
The most common form of FPV is the acute form, which presents as a three to four day history of fever, depression and anorexia, progressing to vomiting and diarrhoea. Severe clinical illness leading to mortality is much more common in young, inadequately vaccinated kittens three to five months of age.
The key to disease control is still mass vaccination. “Disease in cats is caused by parvoviruses, small DNA viruses. The main one is feline panleucopenia virus but parvoviruses that infect dogs can also cause the disease in cats” Professor Vanessa Barrs, Specialist in Feline Medicine told media publications. When less than 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated, the situation is perfect for the emergence of a disease epidemic, she said. The current outbreak is a timely reminder that maintaining immunity in populations of animals where effective vaccines are available is essential.
If you are unsure of your cats’ vaccination status please phone us on 6251 1444 and we will check our records for you. Cats less than 12 months of age are most vulnerable and must have had an F3 booster after 12 weeks of age to be fully protected.