Feline panleukopenia (FPV), also known as feline distemper, is a viral infection among cats that is caused by parvovirus. Similar to parvovirus, it is extremely resilient and can survive on nearly any surface and for extensive periods of time. FPV is highly contagious and often fatal. While it is not contagious for humans or dogs, ferrets can spread the disease to and can obtain the disease from cats. Panleukopenia is spread through contact with an infected animal’s bodily waste, body fluid, bed, or dishes. Pet owners can also carry the disease on their clothing and shoes.
FPV harms a cat by depleting their white blood cell count, leaving them susceptible to secondary infection; and attacks the lining of their gastrointestinal tract, causing internal inflammation, pain, and bleeding. The disease is entirely preventable with regular vaccination. Mothering cats can also spread the virus to their unborn kittens; therefore, it is highly recommended that pregnant cats are routinely vaccinated to prevent spreading FPV to their offspring.
If you have any questions about vaccination scheduling or would like to schedule a booster vaccine for your cat, contact our office today!
Symptoms of feline panleukopenia virus
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Severe dehydration
- Weight loss
If your cat exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms, please contact our office immediately, as it may indicate a life-threatening illness.
How is feline panleukopenia treated?
Upon bringing your pet in, the veterinarian will first perform a thorough physical exam to properly diagnose FPV. A Complete Blood Cell Count test will be completed, along with testing on a fecal specimen (when possible). The blood sample will indicate a drop in white blood cell count, suggesting panleukopenia, while the specimen can register traces of the FPV virus.
Because there is not a cure for panleukopenia, treatment is focused on supporting the side effects until the virus subsides, much like treating a human cold. Administering fluids to prevent dehydration, inoculating antibiotics to prevent systemic infection, and providing supplementary medications to curb diarrhea and vomiting are all possible therapies. In most cases, successful veterinary care of FPV patients involves 24/7 in-patient care.
Remember, FPV can be prevented with a proper vaccination regimen. Please consider pet vaccination before it is too late.