Feline Panleukopenia Virus

"Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV, cat parvovirus, cat distemper) is a highly contagious virus that is still present in the feline population. Most domestic cats are successfully vaccinated and protected from the disease. The most vulnerable cats are those that live in shelters and who are exposed to un-vaccinated wild cats or cats where the vaccine has never taken hold because it was administered when they were too young. Treatment involves addressing the symptoms and preventing secondary infections."

Feline panleukopenia (Feline Parvovirus, FPV) is a vaccine-preventable infectious disease. It is caused by feline parvovirus. It is environmentally resistant to many commonly used disinfectants. Vaccination or previous infections provide protection from reinfection. Vaccine-resistant strains have not been reported. Sometimes called "feline distemper", feline panleukopenia is not related to canine distemper.

The greatest risk of infection comes from outdoor wild cats that were never vaccinated and then enter a shelter.

The incubation period for the virus is 3-14 days (usually 5-7 days, but a longer period is possible0. Cats may be contagious 2-3 days before clinical signs appear. The virus is shed and transmitted in all body fluids and feces and can be spread for 2-6 weeks post-recovery.

All cats older than 4 to 6 weeks should be vaccinated.

Symptoms of Feline Panleukopenia Virus

Symptoms of feline parvovirus include:

* Vomiting
* High fever
* Anorexia (weight loss)
* Lethargy/Tiredness
* Dehydration
* Diarrhea (not common)
* Endotoxemia and Bactermia (the presence of bacteria or toxins in the blood)
* Problems walking (Cerebellar disease)
* Eye problems
* Sudden death

Cat Panleukopenia is the number one rule-out for sudden death in an unvaccinated cat.

Diagnosis of Feline Panleukopenia Virus

Your veterinarian will conduct a medical history and record any clinical signs. He or she will also check your cat's vaccination record and when those vaccinations were administered. For example it is possible that if your cat got vaccinated for FPV while a kitten, it might not of taken hold due to interference from antibodies passed on from the mother.

A Parvo SNAP test is used to test for the disease. It is possible to get a false negative reading. A negative reading also means that your cat is no longer shedding the virus.

If your cat is suffering from inflammation of teh intestines (enteritis), is is not a symptom of panleukopenia.

Prevention of Feline Panleukopenia Virus

Control of panleukopenia is dependent on prevention. an effective prevention plan include: effective vaccination, isolation or removal of cats that are ill or quarantine for those who may be incubating the disease, and careful cleaning and disinfection of all areas in which cats are housed.

Treatment of Feline Panleukopenia Virus

Cat's that show a positive test result for FPV should isolated. Treatment involves addressing the symptoms while preventing secondary diseases such as infection.

Therapy includes avoiding dehydration with fluids and electrolytes provided with an intravenous drip. Cat panleukopenia destroys a protective layer in the gut making your cat susceptible to bacterial infection (called bacteriaemia and sepsis). Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent this condition.

A new natural remedy, Panleuk-Free is a "homeopathic vaccine" that temporarily relieves symptoms of cat distemper and feline panleukopenia. Discuss this option with your veterinarian.

If your cat is vomiting your veterinarian may restrict water and food. Vitamin supplements can be helpful with an emphasis on vitamin B.

Cats that develop blood issues such pressure may need a blood transfusion to restore depleted proteins.

Anti-FPV serum is available to prevent infection of susceptible cats following exposure.

Cleaning Your Cat's Environment After Cat Panleukopenia

The virus is resistant to many common disinfectants, but can be killed by cleaning agents that contain peracetic acid, formaldehyde, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), or sodium hydroxide. Household bleach in a 1:30 dilution is effective on smooth hard surfaces like litter trays. Formaldehyde gas can be used for room disinfection.

Since the virus is stable living in the environment all contaminated cages, litter trays, food dishes, water bowls, shoes and clothing should either be disposed of or if necessary, cleaned.


Feline Panleukopenia
S. Newbury
Koret Shelter Medicine Program
Center for Companion Animal Health
University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA.

Guidelines on Feline Infectious Diseases
Feline Panleukopenia
European Advisory Board on Cat Disease


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