Cats eat stock image (supplied by: pixabay)
The BC SPCA was instrumental in the discovery of a new feline virus that can be traced back to a litter of kittens found near Williams Lake.
The Vancouver animal shelter had a number of diseases in cats, according to Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health at BC SPCA.
“When we traced it, it was traced back to cats brought to Vancouver through our transfer program through the Quesnel office. When we looked at the specific cats, we found patient zero. Patient Zero, the first cats to get sick were these three cute long haired, adorable kittens found strays in a rural area near Williams Lake. The path ended there. We had no further information after these three kittens got it because they got sick as soon as they arrived. So it seemed like they brought something into our system. While we were working on it we were collecting samples and it was similar to a stomach bug people would get and it spread quite explosively in the protected population. We had over 70 cats that got sick. We tested them for common feline viruses and all of the tests were negative, so we knew early on that we were dealing with something strange. We reached out to some university staff and experts and set out to collect samples and eventually have them contribute to a university research program where they found this new feline fechavirus. ”
Gordon says the outbreak happened over two years ago and there are currently no sick cats in the shelter.
Gordon says the virus was also discovered in cats in Italy and Hong Kong. She says it’s not a newly emerging virus, but rather an old virus that is only just emerging. Gordon says the three kittens found near Williams Lake were simply unlucky and encountered a cat or cat feces and were indirectly transmitted.
Gordon says there should be nothing to worry, most of the cases were very mild and the cats were looked after by a veterinarian. Gordon advises cat owners to have a good relationship with a veterinarian and to consult the veterinarian if there are any signs of illness. She also recommends taking off shoes if there is a house cat and washing hands to prevent insects from getting into the house.
Gordon says the SPCA doesn’t want to alert cat owners, but they want people to know it’s out there.