Parvo, the number one infectious disease in Vietnam
What is feline parvo virus?
Feline parvovirus is a leading cause of death in cats in Vietnam. The disease is also called feline distemper or felin panleucopenia virus. While cats of any age may be infected with the feline parvovirus, young kittens, sick cats and unvaccinated cats are most susceptible.
The virus has appeared in all parts of Vietnam and can occur throughout the entire year (but more so during the rainy seasons) and in most countries as well. The virus is extremely resilient and can survive in the environment for long periods of time, a constant threat to other cats. Kennels, pet shops, animal shelters, unvaccinated feral cat colonies, and other areas where groups of cats are housed together appear to be the main reservoirs for the virus.
How can you recognize the symptoms?
Symptoms of the parvo virus include lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, bloody vomiting and diarrhea. Affected cats often die rapidly from dehydration and massive secondary infection.
Can feline parvovirus be cured?
There is no antivirus or medicinal cure for feline parvovirus. The survival of affected cats will depend greatly on the health and condition of the cat itself, how quickly the condition is diagnosed, and how the infection is managed as it progresses. Cats will normally be taken in as inpatients at veterinary practices and intensively nursed with IV fluids and supplementary feeding.
Before moving to Vietnam, I’ve been facing this disease in different countries in Europe and the disease has always been a challenge to treat, but I’ve never seen such a quick deterioration in cats as I’ve seen it here in Vietnam.
How to protect your cat?
Feline parvovirus is much better prevented than treated. Highly effective vaccines are available and all cats and kittens should be vaccinated (including indoor-only cats). Most young kittens receive their first vaccination between six and eight weeks of age and followup vaccines are given until the kitten is around 16 weeks of age. Adult vaccination is highly recommended as yearly booster as long your cat lives in Vietnam.