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Aina Meducci 2012


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Feline Panleukopenia Virus

Just got to know that one of UMK's stray cat (the one I've posted about rectal palpation) died because of feline panleukopenia.


" Are you sick?? please tell me..hurmm"

awww soo cute :)

Feline panleukopenia (also called feline infectious enteritis, feline "distemper," and feline ataxia or incoordination) is a highly contagious viral disease of cats characterized by its sudden onset, fever, inappetence (loss of appetite), dehydration, depression, vomiting, decreased numbers of circulating white blood cells (leukopenia), and often a high mortality rate. Intrauterine (within the uterus) infection may result in abortions, stillbirths, early neonatal deaths, and cerebellar hypoplasia (underdevelopment of the cerebellum) manifested by incoordination (ataxia) in kittens beginning at two to three weeks of age.

All members of the cat family (Felidae) are susceptible to infection with feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), as are raccoons, coatimundis, and ringtails, in the family Procyoniclae.

Etiology and transmission

Feline panleukopenia virus is a very small and very stable virus classified in the parvovirus group. The genetic material of the virus is composed of a single"strand of DNA. The virus is highly resistant to most disinfectants ether, chloroform, acid, alcohol, and heat (56'C, or 132.8'F, for thirty minutes)but is susceptible to Clorox bleach. Replication (reproduction) of the virus in the host occurs in cells that are themselves actively reproducing. Incubation period is between 5-10 days. Primary site of infection are in the rapidly dividing cells which includes cerebellum, lymphoid tissue and intestine. It may reduce white blood cells number.

Feline leukopenia virus caused by Parvoviridae family

FPV is a severe, highly contagious disease that is oftentimes fatal. Feline panleukopenia occurs worldwide, but is rarely seen as a clinical entity due to the effectiveness of vaccination in preventing the disease. Young, unvaccinated kittens present most commonly with this disease. Unvaccinated feral cat colonies and other wild felids also serve as reservoirs of infection for the domestic cat population.

FPV exposure and infection can occur in several ways. The major route of transmission is direct contact between a susceptible host and an infected animal or its secretions. The virus is shed in all body secretions of infected animals for up to six weeks. Once introduced into the environment, the virus is very hardy and can persist for years.

Treatment of fomites (inantimate objects) and other contaminated materials for ten minutes with bleach, 4% formaldehyde or 1% gluteraldehyde is necessary to inactivate the virus. Fomites, including contaminated instruments, cages and bedding, are also an important route of viral exposure. Mechanical transmission of FPV via arthropod vectors is probable as well. Lastly, this virus also can cross the placenta to infect the fetuses in utero.


The virus usually enters orally, with infection occurring primarily in the lymphoid tissues of the oropharynx (tonsillar area) and intestine. Within twenty-four hours of infection, virus is present in the blood, which distributes it throughout the body. Within two days of infection, nearly every body tissue contains significant amounts of virus. As circulating antibodies appear, the amount of virus present gradually decreases. Small quantities of virus may persist for up to one year in certain tissues, but the strong immune response of the host usually neutralizes the virus as it is shed, so that most persistently infected kittens are not infectious.

The most severely damaged tissues in the infected newborn cat are those undergoing rapid cell division -the thymus (lymph organ in the chest) and the cerebellum (rear of the brain). Cells of the small intestine, which have a slow turnover rate in neonates (newborns), are not damaged, although the virus is present within them. In older kittens, the development of the disease also depends on the reproductive activity of the various tissues within the body. Lymphoid tissues, bone marrow, and the surface cells of the intestine are the most severely affected.

Clinical signs

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomitting
  • Rough, dry skin (coat)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ataxia
  • Swollen abdomen


  • Basis of history
  • Clinical signs
  • Blood cell count
  • Fecal test
  • Virus isolation
  • Necropsy examination


Panleukopenia normally has a high mortality rate, but with diligent effort and good nursing care this can often be reduced. The main objective is to keep the affected animal alive and in reasonably good health until the natural defenses take over (i.e., the appearance of antibodies and an increase in number of circulating white blood cells). Antibodies usually appear about three to four days after the first signs of illness; two to three days later, the sharp "rebound" in white blood cell number can be expected to occur.

Thus, if the cat can be supported for five to seven days after onset of the disease, the chances of recovery usually are good. Veterinary supportive care is aimed at the vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, which may dangerously upset fluid and electrolyte balance, and at preventing secondary bacterial infections. Secondary viral respiratory infections are common complications of panleukopenia. The FPV infection may act to trigger a latent respiratory virus, such as feline viral rhinotracbeitis virus or feline calicivirus. Simultaneous FPV and respiratory virus infections usually produce a more severe illness than if either virus alone had infected the animal.


There are several excellent vaccines available to immunize cats against panleukopenia. These vaccines are highly effective and produce long-lasting immunity. Because panleukopenia is an entirely preventable disease, one cannot overemphasize the importance of proper immunization.Immunization should be initiated by the veterinarian when kittens are eight to ten weeks of age. A second vaccination should be given four weeks later.

FPV's Vaccines

In areas where the prevalence of infection is high, and for maximal protection, a third vaccination may be indicated at sixteen weeks of age. if a kitten is twelve weeks of age or older at the time of initial vaccination with a modified live virus vaccine, a booster vaccination need not be given until it is at least one year of age. Immunity produced by FP vaccines is long-lasting, perhaps for life.

Revaccinations every year would not seem to be necessary from a scientific standpoint, but the vaccines are licensed for only 3 years' protection.Immunity acquired from the queen via colostrum (initial breast milk) must be considered when establishing a routine vaccination program. interference by maternally acquired (passive) immunity is the most common cause of vaccine failure. There exists a direct correlation between the FPV antibody level of the queen at the time of birth and the duration of passive immunity in the kitten. This passive immunity, if of sufficient strength, will not only protect the kitten against virulent FPV but will also react with the vaccine virus and interfere with immunization.

Vaccination must be performed after kittens have lost most or all of their maternally derived immunity.The use of FPV antiserum (clear blood liquid containing antibody) to immunize cats passively is indicated if an unvaccinated animal has been exposed to the virus or is likely to be exposed before vaccine induced immune responses can develop. Antiserum is also indicated for colostrum-cleprived or orphaned kittens. The routine use of antiserum in unexposed kittens is not recommended, however; instead, kittens should be vaccinated during their first visit to the veterinarian's office, and revaccinated as indicated.

Sources: Max's house; FPV, Catworld; www.cat-world.com.au, feline panleukopenia, Veterinary clinical pathology clerkship program; FPV

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