The Virus and How it Acts
Feline Panleukopenia is caused by a parvovirus, related to canine parvovirus type 2 that is a single-stranded DNA virus. Panleukopenia in cats is also called feline parvoviral enteritis, feline distemper virus and feline infectious enteritis. This particular virus has a tropism for cells undergoing mitosis. This means that the virus likes cells that multiply quickly. These cells include bone marrow, lymph nodes, thymus and spleen, as well as in the epithelial cells of the intestinal crypts. It then kills the cells.
In the bone marrow, it acts by suppressing the production of white blood cells, which are an integral part of the immune system. In the intestines, the virus attacks the lining. This causes diarrhoea and consequent dehydration. This dehydration can quickly become life threatening. These lesions also allow the entrance of bacteria that is normally restricted to the intestines to gain access to the body. These bacteria can spread all over the body quickly leading to a condition that is called septicemia or generalized bacterial infection. This can also lead to death.
The virus can be found worldwide. It is transmitted through direct contact between cats. Cats can transmit feline panleukopenia for up to six weeks. It can also transmit through contaminated objects like food and water bowls. The virus can cross the placenta and infect kittens as well. It can survive in the environment up to a year, but can be killed by soaking in bleach for 10 minutes.
Feline Panleukopenia Signs and Symptoms
The Feline Panleukopenia virus causes a range of signs and symptoms including loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea with consequent dehydration. Death can occur within 12 hours after the appearance of symptoms. If the cat survives the disease, he or she will make a full recovery. There are no chronic symptoms associated with this disease.
Treatment and Prevention of Feline Panleukopenia Virus
Vaccination is a very effective means of preventing panleukopenia in cats. There are two types of vaccines, a dead vaccine and a live one. This means that it is rather rare for vaccinated cats to contract the disease. The problem is with unvaccinated cats and kittens.
The cat will need to be taken to local veterinarians or checked into an animal hospital. Feline panleukopenia virus causes a very serious and often deadly disease and the cat will need to receive extensive and immediate support to have a chance at survival. This support usually includes support with fluid, anti-vomiting medication and antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. The cat may require a blood transfusion. All food and water should be stopped.
It is important to vaccinate your kitty for this disease. This is an effective means of protecting your cat from contracting this disease. Feline Panleukemia is a very serious and deadly virus that requires veterinary support.