Virus forces SPCA to quarantine cats

Cat adoptions at Otago SPCA are on hold for two weeks after about 40 cats were exposed to a deadly feline virus. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Cat adoptions at Otago SPCA are on hold for two weeks after about 40 cats were exposed to a deadly feline virus. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The Otago SPCA's cat adoption centre has been closed and put under strict quarantine conditions after about 40 cats came into contact with a highly contagious and deadly virus.

Executive officer Sophie McSkimmings said it was believed a stray cat carrying the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) infected others at the centre after being brought in by the public.

She said all cats brought to the SPCA were quarantined for seven days, and those showing illness while in quarantine were put in isolation.

The SPCA had about 120 cats at present, but only 40 had come into contact with the sick cat, she said.

Feline parvovirus causes FPV, which primarily attacks the stomach lining and the bone marrow.

Symptoms include vomiting, profuse and bloody diarrhoea, anaemia and severe dehydration.

In about 90% of cases, unvaccinated cats would die.

Most of the 40 cats which came in contact with the infected cat were vaccinated, she said.

So far, the virus had killed six cats at the SPCA, but the number could increase.

''It's been harrowing to watch ... It's terrible, terrible, terrible.''

The virus can be spread long distances through contact with bedding, food dishes or even by the clothing and shoes of handlers of infected animals.

It could not be contracted by humans or dogs, she said.

The virus can kill cats within 24 hours of symptoms appearing.

Pets already adopted were not expected to be affected, but any owners noticing their cat was unwell should take it to a vet.

The Otago SPCA would remain open, but the pet adoption centre would be closed to the public until May 8, she said.

''It's to make very, very sure that we don't get this in our adoption centre.

''It's going to affect us hugely.

''Of course, it's a big loss of income for us. We don't make a lot of money out of adopting cats, but it certainly helps keep the place ticking over.''

FPV was still a major issue in Dunedin, because some people did not vaccinate their cats, she said.

''This has all come from people not caring for their animals and then dumping them.

''There are so many stray cats in the city. We need help.''

 

Deadly cat virus

My kitten, Button, passed away today from this virus. Like the article above says, we had only known she was sick for less than 24 hours. The virus, HPV, is known as the cat plague and is among the most deadly cat viruses out there. My kitten was too young to be vaccinated sadly, and we can't work out a likely scenario for how she got the virus.
I think the ODT and the SPCA should've been and, in future, should be more vocal about this virus. I have a better headline for this article... Deadly cat virus sweeps dunedin. That's the real issue! SPCA quarantined? That sounds unnoteworthy.

Spotless cats steriliser

When you say sterilise, do you mean 'neutered'? Time in the steriliser would eliminate contagion, but I don't think it's been tried with the sentient.

That's a bit harsh

EJ. I'm sure the SPCA do the best they can with the limited income they receive.

At the end of the day, it's only cats and the SPCA never have a shortage of them for adoption. Quite the opposite in fact.

With any luck, a few more of them have caught it too. 

Sterilise your pets!

Please don't criticise the SPCA. They are overrun with unwanted animals - many are pregnant cats, or cats with kittens. SPCAs run out of space for all of these. Many illnesses in the early stages are not obvious, though already contagious. The SPCA does so much and their job is thankless, endless and not lucrative. Why? Because pets aren't sterilised. These pets breed. Resulting in more cats than there are homes for. People are too stingy to sterilise. Being short of cash is no excuse - the SPCA and many vets & animal welfare organisations provide lower cost options. Don't criticise the SPCA - is your pet sterilised, or are you contributing to the problem?  Rather be part of the solution, sterilise your pet, then go and donate pet food to your local SPCA. Don't point fingers, lend a hand. Thank you SPCA - you do a great job in terrible conditions.

SPCA quarantine protocols

SPCA says a stray cat carrying the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) infected others at the centre after being brought in by the public and that all cats brought to the SPCA were quarantined for seven days, and those showing illness while in quarantine were put in isolation.

Are SPCA's handling procedures and quarantine protocols inadequate? Seems like SPCA failed on the basics.

Perhaps SPCA's Sophie McSkimmings could enlarge on the centre's risk management procedures... if 40 cats were able to come into contact with a diseased stray, and six have died. Staggering!

Until we know more, sorry, there are few grounds for confidence in the SPCA service.[Abridged]

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