What is Feline Parvovirus also known as Panleukopenia
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Feline parvovirus (FP), also known as feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), is responsible for causing disease in cats of all ages. This disease varies in its symptoms with ages of cats and is known as feline panleukopenia (1). The virus's genetic material is single-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Mainly there are two types of viruses those having an envelope and without an envelope. The feline parvovirus falls in the category of non-enveloped viruses.
Transmission of Feline Parvoviruses in Cats According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, FPV transmission from one cat to another involves touch with secretions like urine, stool, and nasal. Moreover, the virus can also be transmitted through bites of fleas. Whenever a flea bites a healthy cat after biting the infected one, there are good chances of viral transmission.
studies have shown that infected cats, upon full-blown infection, can shed virus in their secretions for less than weak. However, this virus's uniqueness is its stability in the environment as it is one of the hardiest viruses and can survive for more extended times compared with other animal viruses (2).
It has also been observed that pet lover, while touching cats, can get the virus on their hands and transmit it to other non-infected cats. One of the surprising facts is that even when cats shed this virus in the environment, it is not easy to destroy it due to a unique protein material on the virus surface that has been reported to be even resistant to weaker disinfectants.
Why Feline Parvovirus has Higher Prevalence in Cats To better understand Feline Panleukopenia, it is essential to understand the general aspects of viruses better. Viruses are not living organisms; however, they enter the cells and hijack cellular machinery to produce more viruses once they get into the living body. They usually stay in the inactive form if outside the living body and get degraded after some time. However, feline parvovirus has been reported to be highly stable and can stay outside in organic material for up to one year. This has been the major problem for the persistence of feline parvoviruses.
Symptoms of Feline Panleukopenia in Cats Infection with FPV leads to a severe reduction in the number of cats' white blood cells. Their immune system gets severely weakened, and they can quickly get other diseases, both infectious and non-infectious. It is essential to mention here that young and adult cats suffering from the FPV manifest problems with their digestive system and start losing their weight due to malfunctioning and essential nutrient absorption from the intestinal linings. Overall feline parvovirus infection symptoms vary in newborns and cats older than six weeks. Predominant symptoms in newborn kittens are:
Problems with movement, mainly the hypermetric movements associated with the imbalanced movement of body parts
Incoordination of muscles
Overall changes in behavior
Feline parvovirus infection in cats older than six weeks have different infection symptoms. Prominent are:
Vomiting unrelated to eating
Diarrhea with blood in the excretion
The primary cause of death in cats due to parvovirus infection is dehydration and coagulation of blood in the intravascular regions of the cats being infected with this virus. It is essential to mention here that in pregnant cats' parvoviruses can cross the placental barrier and infect in utero. Under such circumstances, severe outcomes like fetal death, abortion, and deformed fetuses have been reported. If the infection is in the later stages of pregnancy, the newborn kittens have neurological problems. It is believed that during pregnancy, the fetus and newborn kitten brain is more vulnerable to infection with the parvovirus when compared with adults where it leads to damaging immune cells as well as halting the production of new cells to combat the viral infection. This is the primary cause of differential disease outcomes in newborns and adults (3).
Diagnostic Testing for Feline Parvoviruses Early detection of any viral infection, including parvoviruses in cats, helps manage disease caused by this virus. There are several tests available with reasonable accuracy. Three major types used for the early detection of feline parvoviruses are:
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Test of parvoviruses
Antigenic Test for the Detection of Feline parvoviruses
Antibody-based test for parvovirus infection
The sample material being used for the testing of parvoviruses varies based on the testing procedure being employed. For example, PCR testing is performed on the cats' feces, blood, or infected tissues. Particularly for screening purposes, whole blood is preferred compared with fecal samples. Antibody testing is only helpful for cats that have never been vaccinated. In case the cats have been vaccinated, antibody testing cannot be utilized. Regarding antigen testing that investigates the components of parvoviruses in samples. Fecal antigen testing is considered the most authentic for cats not vaccinated over the past three weeks.
Treatment of Cats Infected with Parvoviruses Scientific studies suggest that cats suffering from feline panleukopenia should be hospitalized. It is essential is to keep them in isolation to avoid viral transmission among other cats. As described above, that virus outside feline is highly stable in the environment; there is always a need for robust infection procedures in controlling further spread of viruses, particularly for people having animal shelters or more than one cat. Disinfection Procedure Due to the hardy nature of FPV, the disinfection procedures must be highly intense. Scientific studies have proved that commonly used disinfectants cannot destroy this hazardous cat virus. Disinfectants having the following chemicals are highly recommended:
Hydrogen peroxide (Accelerated)
Sodium hypocholorite and
As such, care should be taken to use detergent/disinfectants containing one or more than one constituent from the above-described list. What needs to be disinfected Overall sanitation is highly recommended if your cat is infected with parvoviruses. Notably, the virus is very sticky and stable. So, disinfection should be applied to cages, litter trays, food dishes, clothing, and shoes. These strategies can help in controlling the viral spread.
Vaccination Against Feline Parvoviruses It is essential to mention here that Feline Panleukopenia is a preventable disease provided a proper vaccination schedule is followed. The European Advisory Board on Cat Disease recommendations suggests that all cats should be vaccinated for feline parvoviruses, even if you have one and keeping indoor. Available vaccines provide good immunity if proper vaccination is followed. The ideal vaccination strategy is to administer the vaccine's initial dose at 8-9 weeks of age. This should be followed with a booster dose after 3-4 weeks and 12 months. After that, cats should be vaccinated every three years’ time (4).
Treatment of Feline Panleukopenia For the treatment of feline panleukopenia, the medical vet should be consulted. Treatment involves an integrated approach. As discussed, viral infection symptoms vary in young and adult cats. So, the treatment varies. It has been observed that medical vet gives antiviral medication for cats suffering from this disease. Feline recombinant interferon-ω (feIFN-ω) has been reported to control parvoviruses infection in cats (5). The immunological protection system is mainly associated with antibodies' production upon vaccination or even after the infection. Passive immunization is a methodology in which serum containing antibodies against viral infections introduced into the cats suffering from viral infection. It has been reported that several European countries are also using passive immunization as a strategy for controlling parvovirus infection in cats.
REFERENCES 1. Jenkins E, Davis C, Carrai M, Ward MP, O'Keeffe S, van Boeijen M, et al. Feline Parvovirus Seroprevalence Is High in Domestic Cats from Disease Outbreak and Non-Outbreak Regions in Australia. Viruses. 2020;12(3). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32188115/ 2. Stuetzer B, Hartmann K. Feline parvovirus infection and associated diseases. Vet J. 2014;201(2):150-5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24923754/ 3. Truyen U, Addie D, Belak S, Boucraut-Baralon C, Egberink H, Frymus T, et al. Feline panleukopenia. ABCD guidelines on prevention and management. J Feline Med Surg. 2009;11(7):538-46. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19481033/ 4. Jakel V, Cussler K, Hanschmann KM, Truyen U, Konig M, Kamphuis E, et al. Vaccination against Feline Panleukopenia: implications from a field study in kittens. BMC Vet Res. 2012;8:62. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22613093/#:~:text=Despite%20triple%20vaccination%2036.7%25%20of,at%2020%20weeks%20of%20age. 5. Paltrinieri S, Crippa A, Comerio T, Angioletti A, Roccabianca P. Evaluation of inflammation and immunity in cats with spontaneous parvovirus infection: consequences of recombinant feline interferon-omega administration. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2007;118(1-2):68-74. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7127114/