Feline Parvovirus: What Advocates Should Know
Anyone who has worked or volunteered in a companion animal shelter is likely familiar with the devastating and hard-to-control “feline parvovirus.” It’s highly contagious and associated with high mortality rates given that it causes feline panleukopenia, “a disease characterised by severe reduction in circulating white blood cell count and enteritis with degeneration of the intestinal villi.” The disease is spread primarily through contact with infected body fluids, feces, “or other fomites, as well as by fleas.” Feline parvovirus is also highly resistant to environmental exposure and can survive at least one year in infected materials. Even for cats that live their lives entirely indoors can be infected by humans that bring the virus into the home. Although not all cats infected with the virus will develop sickness or show symptoms, many of them will; the outcomes range from “subclinical to peracute infections with sudden death within 12hrs.” In other words, feline parvovirus is serious business.
This paper looks at the viral profile of FPV, covering the disease’s detection, prevention, prognosis, treatment, and management. Since the mortality rate of the disease ranges from 25%-90% (while the prevalence of subclinical infections is unknown), it is vital to detect the disease early and isolate cats from others while care and hygiene protocols are put in place. There are vaccination options that are widely available and the researchers here note that “herd immunity” is not only possible but needs to be emphasized. “As many animals as possible in a population should be vaccinated, but in individual cats vaccine should be administered only as often as necessary,” they say, and underscore that “populations where < 70% of animals are protected are considered at risk for development of epidemics." For animal advocates and veterinarians, this paper provides a great deal of insight and useful advice. But the overall takeaway is that "primary vaccination of kittens, resulting in protective immunity, is still the most important strategy for the prevention of FPV infection."