Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases

Widespread vaccination helps keep serious feline infectious diseases in check. Some continue to be common and widespread. With the exception of Rabies, all continue to be present in the UK. Maintaining immunity in the cat population by ensuring high rates of vaccination is fundamental to keeping our cats healthy.

Does vaccination really work?

Does vaccination really work?

Vaccination really does work – a great example is what happened with the Feline Leukaemia Virus in the UK. Before the use of vaccines to control the disease in the early 1990s, Feline Leukaemia was the second highest killer of young cats in the UK - second only to road accidents. With the introduction of a vaccine, and thanks to widespread use, the infection and the fatal disease consequences it led to, are now much rarer than was once the case.

About "Cat Flu"

About "Cat Flu"

"Cat flu", formally recognized as Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Disease (FURTD) remains a widespread disease syndrome of cats, despite the important contribution made by vaccines.

Infections vary from mild to severe and can prove fatal, particularly in the most vulnerable individuals. Sadly these viruses often lead to long-term infections and debilitating complications.

There are 3 primary causes of this common syndrome which include feline herpesvirus (FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV) and sometimes the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. Respiratory disease problems within a household or cattery environment may involve one or more of these infectious causes.

Stuffy Nose

Discharge from the nose and eyes, sneezing and sore eyes associated with conjunctivitis are common signs. Feline herpesvirus, in particular can lead to persistent infections which do not fully resolve, which lead to recurrent and painful eye complications.

Depression and Failure to eat

A high fever can lead to significant depression and inability to smell and taste food. Also pain from mouth ulcers or inflammation of the throat can prevent feeding and drinking - this in turn can compound the problem and cause dehydration.

Coughing

Although a less common sign in a cat associated with respiratory infection, it is a more common feature where an infection is due to the Bordetella bacteria. Complicated cases may develop a life-threatening pneumonia.

Density of Reports

The map shows the density of confirmed cases of cat flu for the past three years.

This density map is created using data captured by laboratories that test for disease.

It is likely that this is only a small proportion of the number of cats that might be affected as not all cats are tested by these laboratories. It is useful to provide an indication of disease in the UK and if vaccination rates drop, we are likely to see an increase in the number of cats being affected by this dangerous disease.

Speak to your vet about how to make sure your cat is protected against cat flu.

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How is it spread?

How is it spread?

Infection is spread between infected cats either by close contact such as sneezing or mutual grooming or via contact with objects in the environment which have become contaminated by discharges. Many cats that are infected subsequently become “carriers”, able to transmit the disease on to other cats for weeks, months and sometimes permanently.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

The risk of developing cat 'flu can be significantly reduced by regular vaccination. In addition, catteries should ensure that the opportunities for spread of infection are minimised by ensuring excellent hygiene and biosecurity, good ventilation and housing which minimises the risk of transmission.

About Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)

About Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is associated with the occurrence of tumours and anaemia in cats but also causes disease by suppressing the cat's immune system. This leaves the cat susceptible to a variety of other problems, which may then be more serious as the cat is unable to combat disease effectively. This is similar to the problems seen in humans with the HIV virus and in cats with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

Signs of infection can take months or years to develop and so infected cats can appear to be totally normal and healthy for quite some time. The first signs of infection may be vague and non-specific because of the huge variety of problems that can occur with FeLV infection

Keeping Britain's Pets Healthy Felv feline leucaemia disease information

Cancer

If cancer develops, the lymphatic system is most likely to be involved and it is highly likely to be malignant. The signs seen may initially be subtle and will depend on the site of the tumour and a variety of different sites may become infected like the chest, kidneys, lymph nodes and spinal cord. Sadly the condition is likely to progress rapidly once the first signs are seen and the outlook is likely to prove very poor.

Pale gums

Anaemia associated with FeLV infections can be severe and this may be associated with a cancerous process, or a number of other mechanisms.

Immune suppression

Infected cats maybe much more vulnerable to other infections and health problems as a result of their poor immunity.

Density of Reports

The map shows the density of confirmed cases of feline leukaemia for the past three years.

This density map is created using data captured by laboratories that test for disease.

It is likely that this is only a small proportion of the number of cats that might be affected as not all cats are tested by these laboratories. It is useful to provide an indication of disease in the UK and if vaccination rates drop, we are likely to see an increase in the number of cats being affected by this dangerous disease.

Speak to your vet about how to make sure your cat is protected against feline leukaemia.

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How is it spread?

How is it spread?

The virus is very fragile and is therefore spread directly, mainly via the saliva or blood from a persistently infected cat and exchanged, for example, by mutual grooming or sharing of food bowls. In addition, the infection can also be caused by a bite from an infected cat or contact with urine and faeces containing the virus. The virus can also pass from a queen to her kittens either in the womb or after the kittens are born, via infected milk.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

There are several vaccines which offer protection for up to three years against FeLV. Vaccination helps to prevent cats from becoming persistently infected. Vaccination is recommended in all situations where cats have a risk of exposure to the virus and is commonly advised for all those that go outdoors and/or in contact with potentially infected cats. It is therefore commonly included in kitten primary vaccination courses.

About Feline Panleucopenia

About Feline Panleucopenia

Feline panleucopenia is a very serious disease of cats which carries a high risk of death especially in kittens.

The virus is very similar to the parvovirus of dogs.

Keeping Britain's Pets Healthy cat disease information

Death

The combination of fluid loss, immune suppression and septicaemia can prove rapidly fatal in young and vulnerable kittens.

Severe vomiting and anorexia

Continued vomiting on an empty stomach is a characteristic sign which may progress to diarrhoea.

Fever and depression

Fever and/or dehydration is associated with profound depression.

Density of Reports

The map shows the density of confirmed cases of feline panlecucopaenia for the past three years

This density map is created using data captured by laboratories that test for disease.

It is likely that this is only a small proportion of the number of cats that might be affected as not all cats are tested by these laboratories. It is useful to provide an indication of disease in the UK and if vaccination rates drop, we are likely to see an increase in the number of cats being affected by this dangerous disease.

Speak to your vet about how to make sure your cat is protected against feline panlecucopaenia.

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How is it spread?

How is it spread?

This virus is very robust like canine parvovirus and can survive in the environment for many months so infection can come from a contaminated environment or directly from an infected cat. The virus can also cross the placenta to unborn kittens and cause their loss or indeed permanent brain damage.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

Without intensive nursing, this disease may prove rapidly fatal, therefore most cat vaccines in the UK market include panleucopaenia as one of the diseases it protects against. Vaccination is recommended for all cats as part of their regular healthcare. Boosters are required to maintain immunity and it is particularly important that queens are up-to-date before any planned breeding.

 

 

Learn more about pet vaccination

Vaccination Protocols

Learn more about Vaccination Protocols

Why Vaccinate

Learn more about why continuing to vaccinate your cat regularly is important

Travelling Pets

Learn more about Travelling Pets

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