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The feline panleukopenia

What is the feline panleukopenia?

It is a highly contagious disease, caused by a virus that affects cats of any age, Although they are more sensitive younger kittens from 1 year, above all the 2-4 months of life, sick cats and domestic cats do not even.

It is a disease present in the world and especially in rural or semi-urban areas especially, at the end of winter and autumn. Death caused by this disease is variable, and can produce up to a 90% case-fatality.

How can you get a cat?

The feline panleukopenia virus is most commonly transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or contaminated secretions sensitive cats. Cats removed virus in the urine and faeces up to 6 weeks after recovering.

There is a transmission in the cats pregnant to her kittens (transmission in-utero) and can also be transmitted by indirect contact with materials contaminated soils, beds, clothes, footwear, hands, dishes for food, etc. It is likely that it is also transmitted through fleas and other insect vectors during times of heat.

In addition, This virus lingers for a long time, until about a year under favourable environmental conditions, so people who lose a kitten by this disease not should take another home unvaccinated previously.

How can tell if a cat has panleukopenia?

It is a disease that manifests itself in sick cats in a very variable from mild clinical manifestations, most common in sensitive cats of elderly to very serious in unvaccinated kittens. There is no typical signs and many owners feel that they have been poisoned or have eaten something strange. So the treatment may neglect or delay.

The first signs that note the owner are depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting and dehydration. The course can be short and serious and sometimes the kittens die a few days above all, kittens from 4-12 weeks of age. Neonatal sudden death have also been observed. Normally the disease can last for 3 a. 4 days after the fever. Fever fluctuates during the illness and may fall below the normal value, before the death. Other signs, in the last stages of the disease, may be diarrhea, persistent vomiting and anemia.

The cats infected during pregnancy may have abortions of fetuses died or mummified, but without clinical signs of disease. Kittens in a litter can be born with motor incoordination, tremors and apathy.

In a litter, all kittens are not affected and have the same degree of neurological deficit. Kittens with damage in the anterior brain seizures, changes of behavior and relatively normal gait, Although abnormal postures.

The kittens affected with minimal cerebellar dysfunction can eventually compensate somewhat nervous disturbance and can live with some residual alteration.

How diagnosed the disease?

Usually the vet diagnosed it based on clinical signs and the presence of leukopenia in a blood test. Leukopenia is not characteristic only of the feline panleucemia as occurs in other processes and not in all cases of this disease.

You can proceed to isolate the virus laboratory, multiplication feline cell lines fast or use direct fluorescence to detect the virus in cultured cells and tissues (from intestine of cats infected during the first two days of the infection). Other lesser-used tests are: electron microscopy, the technique of the hemagglutination and histopathology at the level of the intestine.

Currently used quite often a technical inmunocromatogena that detects the virus in stool and intestinal contents and is very practical and fast. The most common serologic tests are: sueroneutralizacion, complement fixation, ELISA and hemagglutination inhibition but they are rarely used in clinical practice by the presence of antibodies after vaccination.

How is the disease?

Usually the veterinarian treats dehydration, It establishes an adequate nutrition and prevent secondary infection with antibiotics. The main objective of the treatment is the keep the animal alive during 5 a. 7 days until the immune response.

Whether it's one minor cat's 8 weeks the prognosis tends to be serious, But if the cat is older and survives 48 hours after the treatment, the prognosis is generally favorable since it manages to develop a good immunity and recover.

Special care by the owner are important for healing. Thus they are suitable frequent caresses and even feed her in the hand does not hurt anything on these occasions.

How to prevent the panleukopenia?

This disease can be prevented in different ways:

– The cats that survive infection are protected against the panleukopenia of lifelong.

– The mother transfers antibodies to her kittens (calostrales antibody) that it usually last on average 8 weeks although sometimes last up to the 12 weeks of age. When kittens lose antibodies calostrales is when to start vaccination already that if starts before, calostrales antibodies interfere with the development of immunity after vaccination.

– Passive immunity has been used to prevent disease. Homologous Sera from cats suffering from infection provide immunity according to the title of the product and the administered quantity. Recommended administration of these Sera only in cats susceptible to be infected, vaccinated not requiring immediate protection in kittens that have not received colostrums.

– Vaccines induce protection. The majority of vaccines are alive but treated to lose its ability to produce disease and there are other vaccines that are inactivated. The choice of one or the other depends on several factors that our veterinarian shall take into account. The inactivated are harmless and can be used in pregnant females and younger kittens from 4 weeks.

These vaccines stimulate the production of antibodies against the virus and protect the cat's natural infection. Vaccines are not curative but preventive. Most of them have to be given before exposure to the virus and infection to be effective. Kittens are generally given their first vaccine between the 8-10 weeks of life. The vaccination must be repeated annually to maintain a good immunity.

Vaccination has been the most important factor for reducing the presence of the disease. The veterinarian must set the pattern of most suitable vaccination depending on many factors such as interference with calostrales antibodies, amount of disease, age, cat health, etc.

It is essential that along with vaccination will perform a good disinfection to prevent or control an outbreak of panleukopenia, Since the virus is very resistant to environmental conditions. The most appropriate disinfectants are: sodium hypochlorite to the 1/32 in quaternary ammonium after elimination of organic matter and ultraviolet radiation.

Also, groups of cats at the measures taken are as follows

– All new animals should be vaccinated to get and keep several days cut off from the rest of the animals, in disinfected cages.

– Separate the pregnant females from the rest

– It separates mother and kittens during the lactation of the rest of the cats.