A viral disease that usually affects young cats.
Viral disease it usually attacks young cats (from 2 months to 2 years), rarely older cats. Sporadic cases of the disease were also reported in zoos (leopard, tiger, fig). Siamese cats are a particularly vulnerable breed. The first cases of the disease were described as early as 1938 in the USA, while in Poland the disease has been known since 1957.
Panleukopenia is caused by a virus belonging to the parvo group, characterized by high endurance. The source of infection are sick animals which, along with faeces or droplets of mucus from the respiratory tract (sometimes also with urine), excrete the pathogenic virus into the environment.
Usually, infection occurs through the mouth or intranasal route, but it does not exclude that it may be caused by flea bites and other parasites. Young animals between 3 and 4 months of age are most often affected. Some experts say that purebred Siamese and Persian cats are particularly susceptible to this disease due to recessive genes (leukocyte abnormalities). The mortality rate in cases of panlekopenia is high (50-90 percent).
The incubation period of the disease is 4 to 9 days. However, there are also known cases of 12-day incubation. The disease may be acute or acute. In the first one, we do not observe any disturbing symptoms. Usually, when the owner finds a dead animal, he suspects poisoning.
In the acute form, vomiting occurs with excretion of a bile-colored, mucilaginous or watery fluid. Persistent vomiting leads to dehydration of the body. The cat makes painful moans. His feces are thin and very foul-smelling. The temperature of the sick animal rises to 40-41 degrees C and then drops quickly. The animals die within 24-48 hours, often with the head resting on a vessel of water. In milder cases, the disease lasts from 5 to 6 days. Respiratory symptoms do not occur or appear only recently due to viral and bacterial complications. Animals that survive 9-10 days recover after a longer convalescence. In the course of panleukopenia, bloody diarrhea and discharge from the nose and conjunctiva are relatively rare. In some cases, inflammation is observed around the eyes, followed by changes in the mucosa. Ulcers may appear on the edge of the tongue.
Specific treatment consists of administration of serum, symptomatic and supportive treatment, including water and electrolyte losses, administration of antiemetics and antibiotics due to the possibility of bacterial complications. It is very important to prevent the disease by immunizing against panleukopenia, which virtually eliminates the risk of falling ill.