Feline Parvovirus (Panleukopenia)

Information/Facts
Infection
Clinical Signs
Diagnosis
Treatment
Prognosis
Prevention
                                                                                    
parvovirus (a)                                      cute cat (i)                                     parvovirus (a)

Information/Facts
Feline Parvovirus (FPV) is also known as Feline Distemper Virus or Feline Panleukopenia.  This virus belongs to the viral family Parvoviridae, which also includes Canine Parvovirus (CPV) or Canine Distemper Virus.  (2)

FPV is a very small single-stranded DNA virus surrounded by a protein coat (a capsid) and is a very hardy virus.  FPV is more stable in the environment and more fatal than CPV.  (2)


FPV infects cats worldwide; it is not a zoonotic disease, but can possibly transmit to mink and raccoon.  (3)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
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Infection
FPV is highly contagious as infected cats shed large amounts of the virus in all body secretions, such as vomit, saliva and urine.  The virus also remains infectious in the environment for months to years, and can be found in such places as cages, food bowls, litter boxes and on people.  (3)

The death rates are high in young (3-5 months of age) cats and susceptible cats (those with other illness, not vaccinated or living in high risk situations).  (3, 4)

Lymph nodes of the throat appear to be affected first, then within the next 2-7 days the bone marrow and intestines are affected.  White blood cells (or leukocytes) are destroyed (hence the name ‘panleukopenia’) and ulcerations can occur in the intestines.  Cats usually die from severe dehydration or secondary bacterial infection because the immune system is compromised.  (4)

Cats that survive can shed the virus in their feces for up to 6 weeks after recovery.  (5)

If a cat is infected during pregnancy, the kittens may abort or be stillborn.  This virus causes part of the kittens’ brain (the cerebellum) to be undeveloped (termed ‘cerebellar hypoplasia’).  The cerebellum is responsible for balance and movement coordination.  These kittens can be born alive, but usually experience tremors and are very unbalanced.  (4)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                                                                        
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                       prayingcat (i) 


Clinical Signs
Infected cats usually have a fever, will stop eating and will seem depressed.  These signs usually appear so suddenly that owners think their pet may have been poisoned.  Within 3-4 days, the cat may have diarrhea (may be bloody) and it may vomit.  Cats that are severely dehydrated may hang their heads over the water bowl, but not drink.  Cats that survive may take several weeks to fully recover and regain weight.  (4)

catvomit (j)


Kittens that are born infected may show incoordinated movement and tremors, especially of the head, but will mentally appear normal.  Kittens may also be born with abnormalities of the retina of the eye.  (4)
                                                                                                                                 
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Diagnosis
A presumptive diagnosis of FPV can be made from clinical signs.  Tests done by a veterinarian may include a CBC (complete blood count) that will show a marked panleukopenia (almost no white blood cells) or an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay) to detect the presence of the virus in the stool (this test can show a false positive result if the cat was vaccinated 5-12 days prior to the test).  (6)

                                                                                                                              wbc(k) 
 
Other confirmatory tests less commonly used include virus isolation, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), or histology from an intestinal biopsy.  (6)
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Treatment
There is no cure for FPV, but sick animals can be treated with supportive therapy.  This includes intravenous (IV) fluids to treat dehydration, the addition of dextrose (a sugar) to IV fluids for nutrients, and antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections.  (6)
                                                                                                                                                                    
                                           ivfluids2
(l)                            ivfluids1 (l)    
                                                                                                       
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Prognosis
Sick cats require hospitalization.  If the cat recovers without significant damage to its immune system and intestines, it should have a lifetime immunity to the virus.  Kittens born with cerebellar hypoplasia may be able to compensate for the lack of coordination and lead relatively normal lives.  (4, 6)
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Prevention
Vaccination is the best prevention method available for cats.  As FPV is ubiquitous in nature and can cause serious disease, the FPV vaccine should be considered as one of the core vaccines given to cats.  There is both a modified-live vaccine (MLV) and a killed-virus vaccine.  The common FPV vaccine used is an injectable MLV.  The following parameters are recommended (3):

Kittens less than 16 weeks of age:
- first vaccination at 6 wks, repeated every 3-4 weeks until 16 wks
- booster 1 year later
-
thereafter, no more than once every 3 years


Kittens/cats older than 16 weeks of age:
- 2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart
- booster 1 year later
- thereafter, no more than once every 3 years

In shelters during an outbreak:
- kittens:  at 4 weeks of age, then every 2 weeks to 16 weeks of age
- older kittens/cats: time of admission, repeated in 2 weeks

Pregnant cats:

- use only if necessary (high risk situations) – used the killed-virus vaccine

Cats with FeLV or FIV infections:
-use the killed-virus vaccine                                                                                                          
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vaccinating(m)                        


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