Palm Beach County urges vaccinations as panleukopenia outbreak continues

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We first heard about the current widespread outbreak of deadly panleukopenia among shelter cats in South Florida when the Miami-Dade animal services reported a tragic outbreak at their shelter several weeks ago that resulted in many deaths. We have seen continued reports and warnings from throughout the area since then. Broward County issued warnings after the outbreak at the Miami-Dade shelter.

Panleukopenia is also commonly known as feline distemper or cat plague. The latter term has been used frequently in this autumn’s several news reports and statements from South Florida shelters. According to wikipedia, “Feline panleukopenia requires aggressive treatment if the cat is to survive, as this disease can kill cats in less than 24 hours. Treatment involves whole blood transfusion to improve pancytopenia, intravenous fluids as most cats are dehydrated, injections of vitamins A, B, and C, IV antibiotics to prevent septicemia, which develops in most cats with feline panleukopenia if antibiotics are not used, and hospitalization.”

Once infected, the vast majority of kittens and cats will die if not treated. Mortality rates for infected kittens and cats receiving treatment drop as age rises, with kittens at greatest risk.

Now the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control has issued the following warning and recommendation to the public at large.

A news release says:

There has been an increase in the number of cats and kittens diagnosed with panleukopenia, more commonly called “panleuk,” throughout Palm Beach County.  This unfortunate disease can affect cats young and old.

Panleukopenia is a very contagious illness that can be passed on from cat to cat; this illness is not a threat to humans.  Symptoms to look for include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, fever and sudden death.  If your cat or kitten is displaying any of the above signs or doesn’t appear to be feeling well, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away.

Sadly, some of the cats and kittens at Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control (PBCACC) have recently been exposed which is why staff would like to remind you of the importance of keeping your pets up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations in order to keep them happy and healthy. PBCACC now offers a three-in-one (RCP) vaccination and deworming package for cats/kittens over 8 weeks of age, at a cost of $30.  Vaccine packages are offered during regular business hours on a walk-in basis.

Talk to your veterinarian about the best protection plan for your pet.

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