Distemper in Cats: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Panleukopenia

Panleukopenia is a severe, extremely contagious viral disease of felines, kittycats, raccoons, and mink. The panleukopenia virus has the tendency to get into cells which are quickly growing such as those of the digestive system, bone marrow (makings blood cells), lymph tissue, and establishing nervous system. This discusses the common symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, low leukocyte count, and seizures. A vaccine is readily available to safeguard against the disease.

Distemper in Cats: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Panleukopenia

What are the attributes of the feline panleukopenia infection (FPV)?

Panleukopenia (feline distemper) is brought on by an infection really similar to the one that causes parvovirus disease in dogs. It is really steady in the environment and can survive years at room temperature. It survives well in lower temperature levels too, and is not killed by a lot of the typical disinfectants. Contact with a bleach solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water (1/2 cup of bleach to a gallon of water) for 10 minutes will suspend the infection.

How typical is panleukopenia?

The feline panleukopenia infection is prevalent in nature, so practically all felines are exposed to it within their first year of life.

How is the panleukopenia virus transmitted?

FPV is most frequently sent when a susceptible cat has contact with the feces or urine of infected cats. Infected felines shed the virus in their feces and urine approximately 6 weeks after they recuperate. FPV can likewise be spread by contact with urine- or feces-contaminated products such as food bowls, water meals, clothing, shoes, hands, bed linen, and litter boxes.

The panleukopenia infection is also transferred from the mother to the establishing kittens within her uterus. It can also be spread by fleas.

What are the symptoms of feline distemper?

The symptoms of panleukopenia can be much like those seen in dogs with parvo or canine distemper (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures), which is why the disease is sometimes called ‘feline distemper.’ Panleukopenia in young unvaccinated kittens is normally deadly.

Young Cats:

Many older felines who are exposed to feline panleukopenia infection do disappoint symptoms. Nevertheless, young (3-5 months old) unvaccinated felines can end up being seriously ill. The incubation duration (time from direct exposure to the infection to the development of symptoms) is 4-5 days. The start of symptoms is sudden and felines will start with fevers of 104-107 ° F, anxiety, and will not eat. These symptoms appear so all of a sudden, some owners think their animal has been poisoned. Three to four days later they will begin vomiting and can become seriously dehydrated. Seriously dehydrated cats might hang their heads over the water bowl, however not drink. Diarrhea can likewise occur and may be bloody.

A feline who becomes badly dehydrated may establish a lower than normal body temperature hypothermia, end up being weak and even comatose. Such a feline is really prone to establishing a bacterial infection in addition to the viral infection.

Felines who endure the symptoms for longer than 5 days will generally survive, but complete recovery (restoring of weight) might take several weeks.

Pregnant Cats and Their Litters:

Pregnant felines who end up being infected with panleukopenia might terminate or have stillborn kittens. In some cases, a few of the kittycats in the litter may be born incoordinated and have tremblings, particularly of the head. These nervous system modifications are brought on by the panleukopenia virus impacting the cerebellum, the part of the brain accountable for collaborating muscle movement. The condition is called “cerebellar hypoplasia”. Psychologically, these felines appear normal. As the kittycats grow, they may be able to compensate and lead reasonably normal lives.

Kitties may also have problems of the retina of the eye (the back of the eye which gets the light and sends signals to the brain).

How is panleukopenia identified?

The vet will consider the medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and lab testing to make a medical diagnosis of panleukopenia. Panleukopenia needs to be separated from feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection, salmonellosis, and perforation of the intestine, as can be seen with a direct foreign body.

On a physical exam, the veterinarian would find fever, dehydration, depression, and when palpating (sensation) the abdominal area, discover that the intestinal tracts were thickened and the lymph nodes in the abdomen are bigger. The abdominal area is frequently painful.

Cats with panleukopenia (which really implies a decrease in all types of leukocyte) will have a low leukocyte count, although this can be seen in illness besides panleukopenia. Some cats will likewise show a decrease in the variety of platelets (the components of the blood which help it to clot).

Test kits are readily available to find the infection in the feces. Recent vaccination versus panleukopenia might cause the test to appear favorable. Blood tests to search for antibodies (proteins produced by the body to destroy foreign invaders such as bacteria and infections) to the infection can be performed, but these tests are more commonly used for research instead of medical diagnosis. The virus can also be isolated from the feces or urine, but once again, this is a lengthy and expensive test which is generally carried out in research situations.

How is panleukopenia dealt with?

The treatment for panleukopenia is basically helpful care. Fluids are given intravenously or subcutaneously to remedy the dehydration. Blood transfusions may be provided to severely impacted felines. Medications would be provided to stop the vomiting. Antibiotics might be provided to protect the sick feline from developing a bacterial infection. Injections of B vitamins may likewise be offered. Once the vomiting has stopped, the cat can be put on a bland diet with small portions provided frequently. For young kittens who did not receive colostrum, injections of antiserum can be handy.

How is panleukopenia prevented and managed?

Vaccination of kittens at regular intervals is the most important way to protect felines from getting a panleukopenia virus infection. Eliminated virus vaccines may be administered to pregnant felines or kittycats less than 4 weeks of age if exposure to the panleukopenia virus is most likely (e.g., in a animal shelter). The disadvantage to these vaccines is that the feline is not actually safeguarded until 3 to 7 days after the second vaccination. Customized live vaccines produce more fast and efficient resistance, however a series of a minimum of two vaccinations 2-4 weeks apart must still be offered. Pregnant felines and kittycats who are younger than 4 weeks of age need to NOT be offered a modified live vaccine given that it could cause abortion or damage to the cerebellum of the kitten.

The environment of felines with panleukopenia must be considered polluted with the infection. A 1:32 dilution of family bleach need to be used to sanitize floors, dishes, litter boxes, cages, and other items. Keep in mind that this virus can last for many years in the environment. A kitten needs to not be presented into a cattery or family unless he has gotten his series of vaccinations.


D. Roberts (Junior Expert)/ author of the article

He is a specialist in the field of veterinary medicine, and pet care. Believes that the person responsible for each pet, which was taken into the house, and therefore should study his behavior, means of determining health status and methods of first aid.

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