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Fatal cat plague on the rise for the first time in 40 years

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, February 9, 2018, 6:02 PM - A fatal cat disease is on the rises after being in remission for almost 40 years, with multiple cases of parvo-virus reported in stray kittens in Melbourne, Australia this month.

The disease was common in the 1960s and 1970s.

Australia was one of the first countries to develop an effective vaccine, which helped push the virus into remission.

Still -- it was never completely eradicated and started recirculating in 2016, effecting only unvaccinated cats.

The illness seems to target unvaccinated young cats and kittens. Treatment is intensive, including the use of feeding tubes, opioids for pain relief, antibiotics and sometimes blood transfusions.

It can cost thousands of dollars and, even with treatment, the mortality rate remains high.

There is no risk of spreading the virus to humans.

Canine version of the virus seen in Canada

Experts suspect an increased effort to rehabilitate fera cats, combined with many pet owners foregoing vaccinations due to their high cost are among the reasons the virus has re-emerged in Australia.

Dogs can be infected with a different strain of the virus, known as canine parvovirus, which has been seen in Canada.

In January, eleven dogs were euthanized in Regina, Saskatchewan after contratcing parvovirus, which is spread through saliva and feces. Like the feline strain, the disease only effects unvaccinated dogs.

While parvovirus is usually dormant during winter months, it is hardy and can withstand freezing.

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