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Morristown animal shelter warns about deadly feline virus after several kittens tested positive

Feline Panleukopenia is a deadly virus that is especially impactful in kittens and affects cells in bone marrow, intestines and in feline fetuses.

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — The Morristown Hamblen Humane Society announced Monday several kittens tested positive for a deadly virus.

Feline Panleukopenia, otherwise known as FP, can be compared to symptoms of parvovirus usually found in dogs. However, FP is a completely different virus that does not impact canines. It is almost always fatal in cats and affects quickly-growing cells found in bone marrow, intestines, and in cat fetuses. 

The virus does not infect people, and the best way to prevent FP in cats is to give pets their FVRCP vaccines, which is usually the primary vaccine for cats.

The Morristown Hamblen Humane Society said the virus is completely preventable with vaccines. They are doing additional testing and are trying to save as many cats as possible. They will not be able to bring any cats or kittens into the shelter for two weeks, they said.

They are also isolating and watching the cats they have. Since the virus does not impact dogs, visitors can still see dogs while the shelter tries to contain the virus.

"Please keep all of our cats, kittens and staff in your thoughts," the shelter said.

ATTENTION!! We are heartbroken to announce that we have had multiple kittens in our shelter test positive for Feline...

Posted by Morristown Hamblen Humane Society on Monday, August 29, 2022

The FP virus can be found almost anywhere in cats' environments, and the American Veterinary Medical Association said most cats are exposed to it at some point in their lives. As long as they are vaccinated against it, the cats are usually fine. But young kittens and unvaccinated cats can die from the virus.

It has appeared in all parts of the U.S. and across the world. Urban areas are more likely to see FP outbreaks during warmer months since cats are more likely to interact with each other., the AVMA said.

FP viruses can survive for up to a year in the environment, and they are usually spread from place to place from urine and stool from infected cats, or from fleas that feed from infected cats.

"The virus that causes FP is difficult to destroy and resistant to many disinfectants," the AVMA said. "Ideally, unvaccinated cats should not be allowed into an area where an infected cat has been — even if the area has been disinfected."

When symptoms of FP first appear, they can seem similar to worms or other common illnesses. As the virus progresses, cats may lose their appetites or appear lethargic. They can also get a high fever, start vomiting, have severe diarrhea, have discharge from their noses or be dehydrated.

Most kittens under eight weeks old die from FP. Older cats who are treated early with medications and fluids have a higher chance of surviving. Without this care, up to 90% of cats with FP can die, according to the AVMA.

The Morristown Hamblen Humane Society said they will reach out to all fosters with kittens as well as anyone who filled out an adoption application for cats or kittens.

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