Feline Parvovirus or Panleukopenia

Commonly a sickness of feral cats in Manila, it is a life-threatening and highly contagious infectious disease. Kittens are the most vulnerable.

This disease is very preventable as vaccines are widely distributed in veterinary facilities around Manila. However the disease is hard to control because of the overpopulation of cats in our region.

WHAT CAUSES FELINE PANLEUKOPENIA?

A virus that lives all around us and looks like this:

 It is a relative of the dog parvovirus but it is more difficult to remove from the environment and much deadlier.

SYMPTOMS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Your cat is exposed to the virus either from a sick cat or a virus particle from the soil or inanimate object. The virus enters the mouth or nose. It rapidly enters your cat’s body and infects the tonsils, intestine and bone marrow (the chunk of flesh in the shaft of a bulalo soup).

Once at the bone marrow, it stops the factory that produces white blood cells. These are soldiers of the body against infection. And without this, bacteria and viruses get unlimited opportunities to overpopulate. Having little to no white blood cells is a condition called panleukopenia, thus the name of the disease.

At the intestines, it produces ulcers leading to diarrhea, dehydration, and bacterial infection. The poop appearance can be pasty yellow to liquid. Sometimes, the infection can be so fast that the cat dies even before it throws up or develops diarrhea.

Infected cats shed the virus from their body through their discharges coming from the nose, mouth, vomit, urine and poop.

Recovered cats may still shed the virus six weeks following recovery.

The fetus or kittens are aborted. If they make it, they have permanent brain damage caused by the virus. As a result, the kitten can not move normally because of excessive wobbling.

Your vet will recommend a minimum of three tests: a fecalysis to rule out worms, a complete blood count to check the white blood cells count, and a Canine Parvovirus rapid test kit.

Yes, we use a dog parvo test kit in order to diagnose feline parvo/distemper/panleukopenia. Your vet will collect poop from the inside of your pet using a cotton bud. If your pet still has energy, it will be really pissed. If it is weak, it will have no reaction. Cats really hate it when their anuses are vilified.

However, you need to present your cat’s latest vaccination card to check if your pet has recent vaccinations that may cause the rapid test kit a false positive result.

The three above tests typically cost around PHP 2,000.00. Prices vary according to your veterinary health provider.

No, this is IMPOSSIBLE when using a recombinant vaccine (a safe and stable form of vaccine).

The best option is hospitalization.

The virus damages the tummy and intestines, producing pain, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. You can not give a sick kitten liquid medicines by mouth when it is suffering from the virus because anything you put in to its stomach will simply further irritate it and cause more vomiting and pain. In order to administer medicines, it needs to be on IV fluids for 1 to 7 days.

If your cat tests positive, you need to disinfect your whole house. Mix 1 part of bleach (Zonrox) with 10 parts of water. Transfer in a sprayer bottle. Spray upon the areas where your cat stay frequently. Sunbathe litter boxes, brushes, scratching posts, and toys after you thoroughly wash them

For those pets who are in close contact with the infected one, they are already considered exposed or Patients Under Monitoring. Observe for 1-7 days while you give them a multivitamin, and clean their area daily with a 1 part bleach to 10 parts water spray. After 7-14 days of no symptoms, they should be allowed to receive the vaccine.

If all of them are adults, regularly vaccinated, have strong immune systems, and have no underlying diseases, they should be able to ward off the virus naturally.

There is no specific antibiotic to kill the virus. Like the human flu, you let the virus runs its course. One needs to sneeze and cough in order to expel it from the body. Similarly, your pet undergoes vomiting and diarrhea because the body is also expelling it. But when there’s excessive vomit and diarrhea, it is always dangerous. That is why hospitalization is important.

All medicines are given to your pet through the IV. This Is the needle that stays in your pet’s arm for several days. It provides fluids to prevent dehydration, and a way to give medicines like antibiotic (to prevent bad bacteria from being overpopulated), anti-emetic (stop vomiting), anti-spasmodic (stops diarrhea and blocks pain), electrolytes, and vitamins. Treatment plan varies from hospital to hospital. You may want to ask your vet about the specifics of the treatment plan if you feel you need to know more.

Hospitalization may last for 1 to 7 days. Generally speaking, an improvement should be seen on day 3 to 5 of confinement.

I had a case of a co-habituating RNs living with cats. They came to me to check the first cat which unfortunately, tested positive in FPV (the acronym of the disease). I prescribed multivitamins, sanitation, and observation to the remaining cats. Day after day, the couple came to have each of their cats admitted. So in the end, like them, you could have your entire cat population at home admitted if they are in close contact.

Infected cats heal by showing the following signs: decrease in times of vomiting, diarrhea and tummy pain. From day 3 to 5, your cat should start to eat and drink water. It may vomit immediately after eating for the first time if it eats too much. It is just too excited to be at a healing phase. Our strategy for this is to give small but frequent meals of a bland diet like boiled chicken breast.

However, we have some cases when it was hard to determine if that cat patient improved after a week. The only problem was that it was not eating. Luckily, we had a complete blood count test result on day one. We did another on day 7. The white blood cells which were initially low returned to its normal range. It turned out the cat just had behavioural issues. It refused to eat because of the environment. It didn’t like the hospital. At home, it ate to its heart’s delight.

50-50. An infected cat may recover if the immune system somehow recovers from the disease.

No. You need to disinfect your house and all the vehicles your pet go in to. You need to wait for a long time for the virus to die naturally. You need to be sure that all the other cats at home are negative by having them tested at the vet’s.

I encountered some patients who had a fast recovery from the infection which happened at day 3 to 4 of admission. But on average, it may take almost a week.

On the other hand as long as there are 24 hours of no vomit, no diarrhea, no pain and a normal behaviour, it may be safe to bring your cat back home.

Absolutely not. Not only it is witchcraft, it is plain cruelty. If you consider doing this, you do not deserve to be a cat parent.

If you chose not to confine your pet and it survived at home, count 14 days from its diagnosis and visit your vet for immunization.

Yes but only by using a prescription from a licensed veterinary professional, not from a Facebook group of strangers.

You still need to bring your pet to the vet to know what is wrong, and what options he or she can give you depending on your circumstances.

Buying medicines that you saw other people use on the internet is not only irresponsible, it may also endanger the life of your pet.

Indiscriminate antibiotic use may help produce a multiple drug resistant bacteria in your dog that, when transferred to you, could end you up at a bed in the hospital.

Your vet may rely on the panleukopenia (low white blood cells) result in the complete blood count. That alone, together with the symptoms, confirms the infection.

If it was vaccinated incompletely, or its annual vaccination lapsed, it will get sick with the virus.

Not on the day of discharge. For a week or so, your pet still needs a round of medications at home and the poop needs to be back in shape.

Your cat will need to have another complete blood count or CBC in order to check if the cells are back in the normal range. If everything is normal, your cat may be vaccinated.

If this is your cat’s first time, it needs two shots, 3 to 4 weeks apart, then annually for the rest of its life. If your cat had been vaccinated prior, there is an option to repeat the shot depending on your health provider’s protocol.

No. But this does not mean that you should not bring your cat back for its annual vaccines. Remember, there are 3 more diseases in the 4-in-1 vaccine that your cat may acquire in the future.

No. Neither your children nor your little cousins. But other cats may acquire the disease if they are not vaccinated.

If you plan on buying a new kitten, you may set a vet appointment on the same day you will acquire the ball of fluff. Request a Parvo test as well as a fecalysis to rule out common diseases of young cats. Some choose to have an agreement with the seller that if the cat tests positive with the virus, the buyer has the right to a full refund and that the seller should shoulder the vet bills.

If you are purchasing online, be sure the breeder will allow you to visit his or her home so you may see the conditions that the kitten is being brought up to. If the breeder does not allow this, look for another one. A responsible breeder is confident with his or her management system and simply has nothing to hide. You should take note of the behaviour of the parents, noticing how social they are.

If you already have a cat but is not up-to-date with its vaccines, please be responsible. Panleukopenia is a highly preventable disease. It only takes half a day to bring your cat to the vet and have it vaccinated.

Since stray cats carry the virus, your cat should not be exposed to feral cats. Neutering your cat on its first year helps curbing down the number of visitors when your pet is in heat.

Note

Look for an emergency service provider in advance by calling your nearby vets. It helps to know who is open at the middle of the night. Be sure you meet with the doctors and staff to make sure that this place is where you would want to take your pet if you had to. You may opt to transfer your pet to your primary care veterinarian the next day if you wish.

2 thoughts on “Feline Parvovirus or Panleukopenia”

  1. Please help me about the cat I just rescued yesterday, he is so thin and has a pale gums. I just gave him vitamins, dextrose water and ferrous sulphate for now

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