Feline Parvovirus, known by many names; Infectious Enteritis, Feline distemper, Feline Ataxia and Feline Panleukopenia Virus and Parvovirus. Most immunizations label as Panleukopenia. For the sake of this article, we will call it by its common vaccine name; Panleukopenia.
The Disease Itself
Panleukopenia spreads by contacting an infected animal’s feces, saliva, a sneeze or blood. Also, common bedding, common food and water bowls are culprits. Owners can spread it from cat to cat. As if that wasn’t enough, a flea may bite an infected cat and carry it to another cat and infect that healthy cat by biting it. The virus can live for long periods of time (up to and over a year) without full sanitation. This is a good reason to skip “backyard breeders” and pet stores.
This virus affects the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines of the cat or kitten. This causes ulcers which will result in severe dehydration, bloody diarrhea, malnutrition, anemia and the affected kitten will be suffering in pain; much of the times crying. As a result, the affected cat will die, either from the virus itself, or a secondary infection due to vulnerability from the illness itself.
Exposure of pregnant females during pregnancy causes kittens born with cerebellar hypoplasia. This is an issue with brain development, that causes uncoordinated movement, trouble walking and tremors in kittens.
Coping and Prevention
Diagnosis is usually by clinical signs and blood tests. Recovery chances are slim. Keep any infected cats/kittens separately from healthy cats to avoid infection. Interferon might be of some use. That is a conversation for your veterinarian.
Take the utmost of care to clean and wash up before handling unaffected kittens so to not spread the virus. Also, think of gloves, shoes and clothes changes or protective outer covering. Remove those before entering an area of healthy cats and kittens.
Consequently, the best way to avoid Panleukopenia virus is to vaccinate using the suggested vaccination schedule for kittens and cats elsewhere on this site and using antiviral disinfectants made for this specific use of controlling the disease.