Deadly fe­line virus warn­ing

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Perera

Pil­bara vet­eri­nar­i­ans are warn­ing cat own­ers to vac­ci­nate their pets against a highly con­ta­gious and deadly virus that has bro­ken out in Syd­ney for the first time in 40 years and could spread in­ter­state.

An out­break of fe­line pan­leukopae­nia virus, also called fe­line en­teri­tis, in western Syd­ney this year has killed nu­mer­ous cats and forced a se­ries of an­i­mal fa­cil­i­ties to close.

Kar­ratha Veterinary Hos­pi­tal vet­eri­nar­ian Tim Mont­gomery said vets were urg­ing Pil­bara pet own­ers not to be com­pla­cent and make sure their cat was vac­ci­nated against the virus, as with fre­quent pet travel and Aus­tralia’s large feral cat pop­u­la­tion, there was “no rea­son why it couldn’t hap­pen here”.

He said a lot of own­ers had not vac­ci­nated their cats against the virus be­cause, with such a long time be­tween out­breaks, they be­lieved it was not a threat.

“Peo­ple are very good with dogs, be­cause every­one is aware that we have a big par­vovirus prob­lem here, but I think peo­ple get very com­pla­cent with cats,” he said.

“They do their kit­ten vac­ci­na­tions and then they of­ten lose with track with the cat vac­ci­na­tions re­quired.

“So it’s prob­a­bly just a good re­minder, that cats are at risk of this dis­ease.”

The virus’ main symp­toms in cats are lethargy, a loss of ap­petite, vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhoea.

Dr Mont­gomery said the sick­ness was sim­i­lar to par­vovirus in dogs, to the point where it could to in­fect both an­i­mal pop­u­la­tions.

“It’s a virus that at­tacks the cells of the gut and causes them to slough off and die, and as a re­sult, what hap­pens is if it’s un­treated an­i­mals will bleed into their gut and de­hy­drate and not be able to ab­sorb wa­ter through their gut and they pass away,” he said.

“It’s very sim­i­lar to par­vovirus in dogs, and in fact cats with pan­leukopae­nia can give par­vovirus to dogs.”

“So if we had a prob­lem with pan­leukopae­nia, and we al­ready have a big ca­nine par­vovirus prob­lem, we would ex­pect it to in­fect a lot of dogs and pup­pies with par­vovirus.”

Cat own­ers can pro­tect their pets from the virus by mak­ing sure they are up to date with an­nual vac­ci­na­tions, or by send­ing a pet blood sam­ple to the vet for an­ti­body anal­y­sis.

Pic­ture: Louise Alling­ham

Pil­bara vets are urg­ing own­ers to make sure their cats are up to date with vac­ci­na­tions.

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