Tag Archives: vaccination

OUTBREAK WARNING of the deadly Feline infectious enteritis (Feline Panleukopenia Virus – FPV)

 

The resurgence of this deadly virus, which was almost eradicated 40 years ago by vaccinations, has been confirmed in various locations throughout Australia.

FPV is highly contagious and can be fatal to the affected cat. The most common form of FPV presents as a three to four day history of high temperature, lethargy, loss of appetite and may progress to vomiting and diarrhoea. However, in cases of very severe infection, cats can die very suddenly with no apparent signs.

FPV in cats is caused by parvoviruses, which are small DNA viruses. The main one is feline panleucopenia virus but parvoviruses that infect dogs can also cause the disease in cats. Disease control relies on strong herd immunity and that can only be achieved by keeping pets up-to-date with all vaccinations.

Hall Veterinary Surgery use the live Tricat vaccination which gives the best immunity against this disease. If your cat or dog are overdue for vaccination, call us on 6230 2223 to make a vaccination appointment.

CANBERRA CAT VET IS OPEN!

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Canberra Cat Vet, Hall Vet Surgery’s feline offshoot, is open. Phone Leanne or Dr Kate on 6251 1444 for an appointment for consultations, check-ups, vaccinations, dental treatments, desexing or any other cat-related matter.

Come in and have a look around our brand new facility at 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen. Drive in from Gillott St and park right next to our front door. We are near the Post Office, below the bus depot and Officeworks, behind the old police station and in the same building as Belconnen Physiotherapy.

We have a gift for our first 50 visitors (and their cats!)

Feline Leukaemia

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is an important viral infection of young cats in multi-cat households. Over the last few years infection has become less common.

What diseases are associated with FeLV?

FeLV infection suppresses the immune system making the cat susceptible to secondary infections and chronic diseases that would not affect a normal healthy cat. These include mouth ulceration, cat flu, and fungal infections.

Cancers of the white blood cells and solid tumours such as lymphoma cause 10-25% of FeLV deaths.

Anaemia and other blood cell abnormalities are very common in FeLV infected cats. Other FeLV-related diseases include abortion, fading kittens, diarrhoea, neurological or nervous system signs, and immune-mediated disease.

Around 80-90% of persistently FeLV-infected cats will die within 3.5 years of diagnosis.

How is the virus transmitted?

The virus is transmitted by direct contact between cats during grooming or sharing of litter trays and food bowls over a long period of time.

The virus is fragile and does not survive for long in the environment.

An infected queen passes the virus on to all her kittens if she carries them to term. However, this is uncommon as infection with FeLV usually causes infertility or abortion.

What happens when a cat is exposed to FeLV?

Not all cats exposed to FeLV go on to develop FeLV-related diseases. Most cats eliminate the virus from the body, although some remain latently infected for a few months before they  conquer the virus completely.

In cat colonies where the virus is endemic only 30% of cats are persistently infected with FeLV and go on to develop FeLV-related disease. These cats are responsible for the transmission of FeLV to other cats.

How do we diagnose FeLV?

A test at the surgery detects FeLV virus in the blood of a persistently infected cat.

A negative result is always negative. Your vet will assess the predictive value of a positive result by taking your cat’s environment, housemates and outside access into account.

Cats in the process of eliminating the virus will test positive. A second test performed 8-12 weeks after the first test confirms persistent infection.

Is there any treatment for FeLV infection?

There is no treatment that eliminates the virus from the body.

Infected cats should be desexed and confined indoors to prevent exposure to infectious agents and other cats.

Because FeLV-infected cats are more susceptible to disease, vaccination for the common viruses that cause cat flu and enteritis is very important.

We treat secondary infections and other problems like mouth ulcers as they arise.

Most FeLV-infected cats eventually die of their infection or we elect to euthanase them if they are suffering.

Can we prevent infection?

If possible do not house your cat with a known infected cat. Any new cat to the household should test negative for FeLV.

If all the cats in the house are FeLV negative, confinement indoors will prevent casual exposure to wandering cats with the virus.

Breeders may prevent FeLV infection by blood testing all cats and isolating infected individuals.

Vaccination of cats in contact with other infected or potentially infected cats is advisable. As with other vaccines, an initial course of two injections is required, and annual boosters are necessary to maintain immunity.

 

Feline FIV and AIDS

FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is prevalent in Australian cats but testing positive for FIV is not the same as having feline AIDS.

Feline AIDS describes the terminal stages of disease which may not occur for many years – or at all! A positive FIV test means that your cat has been infected by the virus.

 

Are my family at risk?

 

No. Although FIV belongs to the same family of viruses as HIV in people, it only infects cats. There is no risk of cross infection of either virus between species.

 

Are other cats in the household likely to be infected?

 

The virus is shed in the saliva of infected cats and spread by biting. Cats with a history of cat bite abscesses are more likely to test positive for FIV.

Spread between cats in a household is unlikely unless they fight. Normal social interactions such as grooming rarely transmit FIV.

The best way to minimise the chances of FIV infection is to confine uninfected cats indoors away from aggressive cats.

 

How is FIV diagnosed?

FIV is diagnosed with a blood test at the surgery which detects an immune response (antibodies) to the virus. If this test is positive your cat is infected.

Kittens with immunity passed on from their mother may test positive until 4 months of age. If a young kitten tests positive we retest them at six months of age.

Will my cat recover?

Once a cat is infected with the virus it remains infected for the rest of its life but not all infected cats  become ill.

 

What diseases does FIV cause?

Like HIV, FIV suppresses the body’s defences so that the cat is vulnerable to diseases it would normally  defeat. The cat is vulnerable to chronic or recurrent infections that fail to respond to regular treatment.

These include:

  1. Inflammation of the mouth and tongue leading to appetite loss, drooling and mouth pain
  2. Weight loss
  3. Poor appetite
  4. Fever
  5. Signs of brain dysfunction such as aggression, unequal pupils, convulsions and behavioural changes
  6. Swollen lymph glands
  7. Unusual infections like toxoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, chronic flu, pneumonia, skin disease
  8. Tumours especially those of the lymph system

The non specific signs of weight loss, poor appetite and fever occur in many diseases of cats and are usually unrelated to FIV. Cats with FIV are more likely to suffer from these signs and diseases more often and  be less able to throw them off even with treatment.

FIV positive cats have a shorter life expectancy on average than FIV negative cats.

Is there any treatment?

 

Secondary infections with bacteria or fungi are treated with antibiotics and anti-fungals but no specific treatment for the virus is available. Trials with anti-HIV drugs such as AZT have reduced mouth inflammation in affected cats but the cost and availability of AZT makes its use in general practice difficult at present.

Anti-inflammatory treatment reduces mouth inflammation and peps up the appetite in many cats.

 

Should I have my cat euthanased?

 

Certainly not on the basis of a positive FIV test!  Like humans with HIV, cats with FIV appear healthy and happy for a long time before getting sick.

On the other hand if your cat has succumbed to multiple infections, is no longer responsive to treatment or is suffering from a chronically painful mouth then euthanasia is the kindest solution.

 

How can I help my cat?

 

Confinement indoors of an FIV positive cat  reduces the risk of infection with other agents. It also reduces the risk of transmission of the virus to other cats.

A good quality, highly palatable diet as well as worming every 3 months and at least annual health checks will enhance the disease free period.

Infections require prompt and aggressive treatment.

 

How do we prevent FIV infection?

 

Desexing and confinement indoors, especially at night, reduces fighting and therefore the risk of infection. We recommend vaccination with FIV vaccine for all cats with access to the outdoors. Cats older than 6 months of age are tested for FIV before the first vaccination. A series of three primary vaccinations is given 2-4 weeks apart and then a booster is given annually.

 

Boarding your pet

Holiday plans are not complete without accommodation arrangements for your pets, too. Many holiday accommodations are now pet friendly but most people have to leave their pets behind. Ideally, they should stay in their own home and yard with a friend, relative or house-sitter looking after them.

Many pets spend happy holidays at boarding facilities and even look forward to their own break from home routines. If possible visit the cattery or kennels beforehand, inspect the accommodation and meet the staff.

All commercial boarding establishments are licensed by the local authority but standards vary. Seek out recommendations from friends, neighbours or your veterinary surgeon. Some people like to trial board their dogs for a weekend or a few days and see how they settle.

Check that your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date well before the holiday. Kennels insist upon current cover for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and kennel cough for dogs and enteritis, calicivirus and herpesvirus for cats.

A single intra-nasal kennel cough immunization at least 72 hours before boarding covers dogs previously unvaccinated for kennel cough for 12 months. Other vaccinations take at least ten days to take effect.

Puppy vaccination changes

Pups should be have their final vaccination for distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus at 14-16 weeks according to the latest recommendations from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association.

High levels of protection from the dam may interfere with the pup’s own immunity up to the age of 14 weeks, according to recent research. As we cannot be sure of any individual’s level of protection we recommend that all pups have a last vaccination after 14 weeks.

We have changed our puppy vaccination protocol to 3 vaccinations: at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 14-16 weeks.

Some breeds, such as Rottweilers, are late developing immunity to parvovirus, and we have always recommended a third needle for them.

Exaggerated and irresponsible article in today’s Canberra Times

An article on a report published by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (AVPMA) in the Canberra Times today magnifies adverse effects in some animals to veterinary vaccines, flea treatments and other chemicals. It fails to mention the sickness, suffering and death prevented by these treatments in the vast majority of animals.

This morning we admitted an unvaccinated pup into hospital with parvovirus gastroenteritis. He is very dehydrated and is suffering severe abdominal pain. His chances of survival are 60:40. If he had been vaccinated he would not have developed this nasty disease. The vaccine is close to 100% effective in preventing parvovirus disease and only has to be administered once very 3 years to adult dogs.

Many hundreds of thousands of dogs are vaccinated every year and only a handful suffer any side effects. Most often the side effects are mild, a swelling at the site or of the face.

This summer is the worst for fleas and ticks in many years because of the high rainfall. Tick antiserum is in short supply and it is imperative that all dogs travelling to the coast are treated with a tick preventative and searched daily for ticks.

Advantix, permethrin spray and Frontline are the most effective tick prevention available. Compared to the number of dogs treated we see very few side effects. They are usually mild skin irritation or hair loss, and usually reversible.

Dogs infested with ticks die without tick antiserum and intensive treatment. Tick antiserum is far more likely to cause serious side effects than any of the preventative chemicals. Tick prevention is far better than cure.

Fleas and flea allergy dermatitis cause far more discomfort in far more dogs than the occasional side effect to any of the flea preventatives. Millions of doses of fipronil, imidacloprid and permethrin are applied every year but, as the APVMA reports, only a few cause side effects.  The benefits of flea prevention far outweigh the risk of side effects.

Each individual cat should have a tailored vaccination programme. Specialists from around the world debated the frequency of immunisation in cats at this year’s veterinary immunology conference. Factors affecting our recommendation for your cat include whether she goes outdoors or to boarding catteries, or how many other cats live in the household. We have not seen significant adverse effects to the vaccines in any of our patients but we often see very sick unvaccinated cats.

Feline AIDS caused by the cat immunodeficiency virus circulates in our outdoor cat population. It is incurable and reduces affected cats’ ability to fight off common infections and afflictions.  We see fever in the occasional cat on the day following the AIDS vaccination.

We see unexpected but occasional side effects with many things we give our pets. This article exaggerates the APVMA’s report and the likelihood of serious problems If you have concerns about any treatments you currently use please discuss the costs and benefits with your veterinarian first.

Vaccinating your Cat

Kittens are due for their first check up and vaccination at 8 weeks of age. A booster at 12 weeks protects against enteritis and cat flu for 12 months.
Feline Enteritis causes vomiting and diarrhoea and is usually fatal.
Cat flu caused by Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus and/or Feline Calicivirus is not often fatal. Early signs of cat flu are sneezing and watery eyes. Later, affected cats go off their food, lose weight and may develop chronic snuffles.   Flu is contagious to other cats and cats with signs of flu cannot enter boarding catteries.  Flu vaccination minimises signs of disease but does not guarantee full protection against infection.
Cats beginning the vaccination schedule after 12 weeks of age receive one booster a month later.
Your cat will need a booster vaccination 12 months after the initial course, and then yearly.
Vaccines work best in healthy cats, so a full examination is mandatory before each vaccination.

In summary:

1st Shot 2nd Shot And then…
At 8 weeks if possible 4 weeks later 12 months later and annual thereafter