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Cat owners urged to take virus action

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February 06, 2018

Victorian cat and kitten owners are being urged to take immediate action to protect their pet against the highly contagious feline panleukopenia virus to stop it spreading across the state.

The Victorian division of the Australian Veterinary Association and RSPCA are calling on all cat owners to ensure their pets are receiving all necessary vaccinations, including yearly F3 vaccinations and booster vaccinations for kittens to protect them the panleukopenia virus.

Feline panleukopenia is highly contagious and difficult to control.

The faeces, urine, saliva or vomit of an infected cat — along with contaminated surfaces — are all sources of transmission.

The virus causes a severe and often fatal gastroenteritis.

The virus is not contagious to humans or any other animals, but it can be spread to other cats through the clothing and shoes of handlers or owners of infected animals.

Veterinary association president Paula Parker said routine vaccination of cats and kittens had resulted in the panleukopenia virus becoming an uncommon disease in recent years.

‘‘Vaccination provides high immunity, which is why these recent confirmed cases of panleukopenia are cause for concern and action,’’ Dr Parker said.

RSPCA Victoria chief executive Liz Walker said all cats available for adoption through its animal care centres were fully vaccinated.

Kittens, aged less than four months, require a final vaccination booster about 16 weeks of age.

‘‘The best way to control a contagious disease is to create a ‘herd immunity’, whereby a large proportion of the population is vaccinated, reducing the likelihood of any disease spreading. That’s why we are reminding all cat and kitten owners to make annual vaccinations a routine part of their pet’s care,’’ Dr Walker said.

Anyone whose animal shows symptoms of illness should always seek the advice of a veterinarian.

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