Feline Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper, Feline Infectious Enteritis)

*Feline panleukopenia (FP) is a highly contagious, frequently fatal, viral disease of cats. Distribution -

This disease is world wide in distribution and endemic in almost all cat populations.

Susceptibility -

The virus causes disease in all members of the family Felidae and also infects raccoons, coatimundi, the ring-tailed cat and mink. The disease is seen most frequently in cats 3 - 5 months of age.

Mode of Infection/Transmission -

The virus is present in nasal secretions, feces and urine and is transmitted by contact with infected animals. The fetus is infected transplacentally. Infection of kittens in utero or within a few days of birth leads to feline cerebellar ataxia.

Clinical Signs -

The presence of signs is quite variable; some cats show none to few. Signs may include: sudden onset, high fever, anorexia, depression, weakness, sternal recumbency with splayed legs and head droop (hunching posture), nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, vomiting, diarrhea and high mortality.

Diagnosis -

A presumptive diagnosis of FP is sometimes made on the history of no vaccination, susceptible age, clinical signs, characteristic course and a severe leukopenia. A definitive diagnosis is based on laboratory findings. Portions of small intestine, lung, kidney, lymph node and spleen can be tested for histopathology. The fetal brain is examined for evidence of cerebellar hypoplasia. Portions of small intestine and spleen can be tested with fluorescent antibody (FA) staining. Specific fluorescent antibody staining of small intestine and spleen is reliable.

Treatment -

Supportive to cope with dehydration and provide nutrients. Broad-spectrum antibiotics may be used to cope with secondary bacterial infections. Blood transfusions. With adequate treatment and care most kittens and cats recover. Recovered cats may shed virus for up to six weeks.