Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV)
Mike Nathan, Trustee and Veterinary Advisor for Margaret Green Animal Rescue
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Your veterinary surgeons will most likely have advised you to vaccinate your cat against this disease, but ask them if they have ever seen it and the answer will probably be no. It is now extremely rare as vaccinations have kept the virus in check within the pet population. It is an extremely infectious condition and usually fatal for young kittens. They may present as a sudden death but more commonly a fading litter with high temperatures, vomiting, often with diarrhoea and will be unwilling to eat. Treatment is basic - fluids and nursing. It is spread by saliva, vomit and in the faeces.
I have never seen it or recognised it but the virus is out there in the feral cat population. When the blood of such cats are tested, the antibodies show up. This disease in dogs is called canine parvovirus and it was thought back in the early 80s that the cat virus changed to infect dogs. Certainly the only initial protection the dog world had then was to vaccinate using the cat vaccine. So the virus is out there and like many parvo viruses it is very persistent in the environment.
It came as a huge surprise to learn from our Wingletang team that a chance sample from litter of four young feral kittens with vomiting and diarrhoea (which are common symptoms) came back with this diagnosis. Luckily, Niki Ging, one of the centre managers, had the kittens in isolation and her careful nursing has saved three of them. In theory these kittens will now be protected for life against the feline panleukopenia virus without vaccination.
Please remember, just because we do not usually see these virus diseases in this country does not mean to say they are not around. We should all be grateful for the advances in vaccines that have made our pets so much safer.