PARVOVIRUS IN CATS

What is it?
•Feline Parvovirus (FPV), commonly named feline distemper (feline panleukemia), is a highly contagious disease in young or unvaccinated cats
•It is shed in all body secretions
•This virus affects the cells in the intestinal tract, bone marrow, and in the stem cells of the developing fetus
•Kittens between the ages of 2 and 6 months are at highest risk for developing severe disease, as well as pregnant and immune compromised cats
•The feline parvovirus is not communicable to dogs, nor vice versa (similarly, feline distemper is unrelated to canine distemper) 

What causes it?
•Transmission occurs through contact with other infected secretions (urine, feces, blood) •It can also be transmitted through the mother’s placenta to the fetus or through the milk of the infected mother
•The feline parvovirus is resistant to disinfectant and can remain in the environment for a long time
•Most cats greater than 1 year of age are immune because of prior subclinical infection or vaccination
•Adult cats may show no signs
•Kittens could die within 12 hours
•Symptoms include fever, depression, lack of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, depression, and dehydration
•Infection in pregnancy can lead to fetal reabsorption, infertility, or stillbirth
•Brain abnormalities can occur in kittens that have been exposed prior to birth 

What tests are needed?
•A complete blood cell count will show a severe decrease in white blood cells, and possibly anemia or decreased platelet count
•Blood biochemistry profiles may show liver inflammation, altered kidney function, or electrolyte imbalances
•Fecal tests may be positive for the virus, but false positives or false negatives may occur
•Other tests may be needed to rule out other conditions 

How is it treated?
•There is no specific antiviral therapy for FPV
•Medications that decrease vomiting, stomach acid, and treat secondary infections may be administered
•For severe anemia, blood transfusions may be necessary
•Kittens that are vomiting or have severe diarrhea should not be fed until they show no symptoms for 12-24 hours, and then small amounts of water and bland food are given 

What follow up care is needed?
•If the cat recovers, they will be immune for life
•Precautions should be taken to prevent infection of other cats, because the virus can be shed for up to six weeks after treatment ends
•Recovery may take several weeks

PARVOVIRUS IN DOGS

What is it? 
•Canine parvovirus (CPV) is very contagious and primarily causes a gastrointestinal condition
•It can be prevented by regular vaccination

What causes it?
•CPV is concentrated in the feces of animals
•It persists in the environment regardless of many conditions
•It is very resilient and can be carried on inanimate objects
•Transmission most commonly occurs by ingestion through swallowing of the virus
•Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy
•Fever may be present and animals can become quickly dehydrated
•In very rare cases when the heart is affected, CPV can cause sudden death

What tests are needed?
•A complete blood cell count early in the onset of the disease will show a serious decrease in white blood cells, and possibly anemia or decreased platelet count
•Blood biochemistry profiles may show evidence of liver inflammation, altered kidney function, or electrolyte imbalances
•Abdomen x-rays will help rule out other gastrointestinal ailments
•Specific tests for parvovirus can be done on fecal samples

How is it treated?
•Suspected cases should be kept away from other animals
•Supportive treatment is necessary, often with intravenous fluids and possibly medications to reduce vomiting or plasma transfusions
•Intensive therapy is needed for dogs that develop sepsis (occurs when bacteria normally limited to the gastrointestinal tract are released into the bloodstream)
•Food and water are withheld until vomiting and diarrhea have ceased for 12-24 hours

What follow up care is needed?
•Recovered dogs usually have long-lasting protection from reinfection
•To maintain immunity, regular vaccinations are recommended
•Prognosis is poor for dogs with sepsis, but otherwise dogs that survive the first 2-4 days of treatment completely recover