Ask Dr. Richards

June 2010 Issue

Ask Elizabeth: June 2010

Kudos to you for adopting a special needs little fella. Bob most likely was exposed to feline panleukopenia virus, sometimes called feline distemper or feline parvo virus, either shortly before or shortly after birth. This exposure caused a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia, or underdevelopment of the cerebellum. The cerebellum is located at the base of the brain, is responsible for coordination of movement and plays a role in balance. Kittens that are exposed to panleukopenia virus during development of the cerebellum (generally the last two weeks of gestation up until about four weeks of age) wind up with a cerebellum that is too small and doesn’t function properly. Cerebellar hypoplasia can result from exposure to panleukopenia virus itself or from modified live panleukopenia vaccines given to cats during pregnancy or to kittens prior to four weeks of age.

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