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Pets in Australia threatened by viruses that vaccines had previously eradicated

Posted February 10, 2017

There is a virus called deadly feline panleukopenia. It attacks cats and some decades ago took lives of many beloved pets. It has been considered eradicated 40 years ago by vaccinations, but now it may be making a comeback. Pet owners and vets in Australia are being warned to be aware of the spread of this virus, as recently it started claiming lives again.

Timely vaccines are all it takes to protect beloved pets from deadly diseases. Image credit: S. J. Pyrotechnic via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Deadly feline panleukopenia virus has recently killed a number of cats in Sydney and scientists are already speaking about the outbreak of the disease. In fact, some facilities are stopping adoption of cats until the outbreak is under control again. Cat rescue missions are on hold as well and pet owners are warned to pay attention to the health of their cats. Symptoms of the disease are fever, lethargy and loss of appetite, later vomiting and diarrhoea start as well. However, in some cases, cats may simply die without having any of the usual symptoms – the deadly feline panleukopenia is as lethal as its name suggests.

Interestingly, deadly feline panleukopenia has been gone for 40 years. Vaccinations prevented it from spreading and scientists thought the virus has been largely eradicated. That was until recently, when vets started diagnosing it in some stray kittens. A number of facilities, taking care of stray cats, have noticed the outbreak at it already took lives of many animals. Usually, victims of deadly feline panleukopenia are kittens, which were not fully vaccinated yet. At the same time, dogs in Australia are not safe either, as there is an outbreak of parvovirus in some regions of the country.

These diseases are not dangerous for humans – it cannot be passed to them. People can protect their pets by vaccinating them. In fact, the outbreak is probably caused by insufficient vaccinations, especially in facilities taking care of stray animals. Professor Vanessa Barrs, who confirmed the outbreak of long forgotten virus, said: “The current outbreak is a timely reminder that maintaining immunity in populations of animals where effective vaccines are available is essential”.

Vaccines are one of the most important inventions of the modern era. They prevented many diseases in humans and protected our pets as well. Therefore, they should not be forgotten – it is an invisible shield, which is usually ignored when it is working properly.


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