Feline Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper)

Feline panleukopenia is caused by a virus very similar to canine parvovirus. This virus is very hardy and is known to survive for years in contaminated environments. Panleukopenia primarily affects young cats with insufficient antibody protection (unvaccinated or partially vaccinated kittens). Transmission of this virus can be from direct contact with contaminated feces or contact with a contaminated environment.

Clinical signs of panleukopenia include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence or anorexia, and in pregnant queens fetal death, spontaneous abortion or cerebellar defects in neonates.

Panleukopenia is diagnosed with a fecal test, with other diagnostics such as complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry potentially being recommended to better evaluate the condition of the patient.

Treatment of panleukopenia is supportive care with IV fluid therapy and injectable medications. Prognosis is good with treatment, left untreated this virus can be fatal. It is important that infected patients be isolated from other cats and their environments be thoroughly cleaned/disinfected to prevent the spread of this disease.

Vaccination is the best preventative measure against panleukopenia and should be discussed with your veterinarian between 6 and 8 weeks of age. It is important to avoid exposure where other young or unvaccinated cats frequently visit such as pet stores, until your kitten has been fully vaccinated.