While humans can breathe a sigh of relief that we’re finally getting over COVID-19, an increase in laboratory-confirmed cases of feline panleukopenia, a fatal viral disease affecting cats has been identified in the Western Cape – particularly in the Cape Flats and the Southern Suburbs.
TEARS Animal Rescue has urged pet owners to make sure their cats are fully vaccinated after recently identifying an increase in laboratory-confirmed cases of the viral disease. Head veterinarian at TEARS, Dr Tania Heue, said unvaccinated animals have a mortality rate of up to 90% and they contract this disease by either direct or indirect contact with other infected cats, or with the virus that can lie dormant in an infectious environment for years as per IOL.
He added that an outbreak in the province is inevitable if nothing is done to curb its spread.”Currently, we’re seeing more and more cases from communities in the Deep South, Cape Flats, and Southern Suburbs, including Diep River and Constantia. The only way to curb the spread is by vaccination,” he added.
Dr Heue said any unvaccinated cat is susceptible, especially community and homeless cats that live in colonies. “Because of the high contagiousness and mortality rate of the disease, animals that contract and show symptoms of the disease have to be euthanised.”
It takes about seven days for the virus to show and the symptoms include loss of appetite in cats, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, high fever and, ultimately, death. The first case of the virus was identified in late May after an infected cat was brought into the TEARS Veterinary Hospital from Vrygrond.
“We urge all pet owners to make sure their cats and kittens have been vaccinated to prevent the spread of the disease and limit the negative impact in our communities and the unnecessary suffering of animals.”