Today we want to talk about feline calicivirus, a disease common in cats that are produced by a virus, which also has a great ability to mutate (in the picture feline flu ). It is highly contagious and if not treated in time it can be fatal, especially in cats who are elderly or have a depressed immune system. But do not trust, because in practice any cat can contract a calicivirus under certain conditions.
Calicivirus in cats, what is it?
Calicivirus is a type of feline flu produced by a virus that spreads from cat to cat and causes serious respiratory illnesses, such as feline rhinotracheitis, with symptoms ranging from sneezing, rhinitis, tears, ulcers in the mouth and can also be complicated by pneumonia, if not treated in time. It is important to point out that this is a highly mutant virus, which means that its treatment or prevention is not straightforward and vaccines, and we do not guarantee that a cat cannot contract the disease.
How is it transmitted in cats?
Calicivirus can be transmitted by direct contact from an infected or carrier cat to a healthy cat, by saliva, by cleaning each other, by sneezing or secreting, by tears and mucous membranes. But the contagion can also produce indirectly, via objects, such as feeders or common drinkers, and that is that the virus is able to remain active, up to four months outside the cat in the environment, waiting for a new host. Let’s say that many cats that have overcome the disease or have developed antibodies, can become carriers and be a route of infection for other cats, without developing the disease.
What are the symptoms of feline calicivirus in a cat?
There are several symptoms that appear in a cat that has contracted a calicivirus. The infection of the upper respiratory tract causes secretions in the nose, mucus, and tears. There may be ulcers and sores in the mouth and nose, especially on the tongue and fever and even lameness. With the progression of the disease, skin edema, skin ulcers, stiffness in walking, joint pain may appear. In more severe and advanced cases, there may be systemic inflammation due to failure with hepatic necrosis, pneumonia, and pulmonary edema. That is why it should be detected as early as possible because if not treated in time, it can cause the death of the cat suffering from it.
Which cats can develop this disease?
Feline calicivirus is a disease that occurs more frequently in colonies and communities of feral cats and feral cats. In these groups, the most vulnerable will always be the older cats, who have the weakest defenses. Also, cats affected by other pathologies have weaker immune systems. The kittens are also vulnerable to the virus, for the immune system yet undeveloped. A domestic cat with access to the outside can also develop a calicivirus by contagion.
What can be done to prevent the disease?
Vaccination is recommended, especially if a domestic cat lives with other cats and has access to the outdoors. It is necessary to say that the cats who have developed and defeated the calicivirus, will be able in the future to be resistant to the disease, this means that they will be able to be immunized, but the time will not be very high, because after 1 or 2 years, the strain may have mutated, so it could be infected again. Current vaccines are made from strains of calicivirus which are highly compatible with other licensed strains. This ensures that the vaccine is a degree of success and protection against the virus, but never 100%.
Other measures to avoid contracting the disease, if an infected cat is identified, is the immediate isolation from other healthy cats. Always use disposable gloves and gowns and, where possible, clean any items that may have been regularly exposed to the virus and that has been shared.
As mentioned above, feline colonies can be the most common foci of infection, but if this does occur, palliative measures can be taken to help return to normal:
If the calicivirus outbreak has affected cats that have already been vaccinated, it is always <strong> to clean as much as possible the entire exposed area. If this is not possible, it is necessary to wait at least 4 months, before introducing a new cat in the colony.
Cats that have been exposed to the outbreak, even when vaccinated, should stay an average of three months in isolation, in case they could be carriers of the outbreak.
If the calicivirus outbreak has affected cats that have not been vaccinated, it is recommended that only cats that have been previously vaccinated against the calicivirus be introduced into the colony. Cats exposed to the virus will not be allowed to leave the colony until symptoms related to the virus have subsided. From this moment they can be adopted, but as long as they are in contact during the first 4 months with properly vaccinated cats.
Is feline calicivirus treated?
As we said before, calicivirus is a virus that has the ability to mutate and change, very often, so a vaccine cannot protect against the following strains, so the best treatment for this virus is the prevention of any contamination, by cleaning and isolation, at the same time when it is detected that a cat can be a vector of the disease. For the detection of this disease, the diagnosis is based on a series of graphs and clinical evidence, as well as the corresponding tests that will be carried out in the laboratory. In these cases, the feline flu virus test involves taking samples to further study the oral mucosa, in order to obtain a sample that will be cultured and will help identify the virus.
Currently there is no drug that can kill the calicivirus, so the goal of treatment, as in other diseases like feline pancreatitis, is to support and take care of the cat’s state of health, avoiding reducing the effects disease and struggling at all times, as much as possible palatal symptoms, as far as possible. In some cases, treatment may include antibiotics to control possible secondary infections, medicines for a runny nose, and to help you breathe easier.
In most of these cases, cats suffering from feline flu tend to lose their appetite, so it is important to motivate them to eat, by offering them attractive and palatable food.
In some cases and given the level of malnutrition, vets may recommend forced feeding, using syringes, liquid food and always with great care to prevent the cat from choking. For other cats in a more severe condition, the veterinarian will recommend their admission to the clinic, for more intensive follow-up.
This article is for informational purposes only and any prescription should always be supervised by a veterinarian, so if you detect that your cat may be having any of the associated symptoms, we recommend that you get your hands on it as soon as possible. The best treatment is early detection.
If you found this post useful and interesting, don’t forget to share it on your favorite social network. Your experience and opinion of the feline calicivirus, it is very important if your cat has suffered or is suffering from this disease, in the comments.
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