Features

September 2011 Issue

Panleukopenia: A Lethal Threat

This viral infection is extremely resistant— and is very dangerous to unvaccinated kittens. Here’s why.

Among all agents of feline illness and mortality, few if any are more pernicious — especially to kittens — than feline panleukopenia virus (FPV). The disease is also known in some circles as “distemper,” a misnomer, notes Fred Scott, DVM, PhD, a professor emeritus of virology in Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and founding director of the Cornell Feline Health Center. ”Distemper” refers to a respiratory disease, and there is no respiratory component to feline panleukopenia. Cats become infected with FPV — which is classified as a parvovirus — by living in an environment that is contaminated with it or by coming in contact with the urine, feces, saliva or nasal secretions of a cat that is already infected.

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