Panleukopenia virus running rampant in Bradley County
10-week old Kami the kitten was adopted from the Bradley County SPCA. Kami meant the wold to 4-year old Kassidy Payne. But the kitten died seven days after her adoption. Kassidy’s mom April says her daughter struggles to understand what happened to Kami.
"She’s devastated. Everyday I hear mommy I miss Kami which was the kittens name. Or mommy, I wish my kitten hadn’t died," Payne said.
WDEF spoke to SPCA director Kristen Harvey who said Kami showed no signs of being ill. She also said Kami was medically cleared for adoption.
"There was nothing to indicate this kitten was sick in any way. In fact, she was still very playful and active when she left," Harvey said.
But days after Kami went home with the Payne family, she started showing signs of something wrong.
The cat went to two different animal hospitals but it was too late.
The Payne family would later learn from veterinarians that Kami died from Panleukopenia; a highly contagious and deadly virus that attacks a cats immune and gastrointestinal systems.
Dr. Aimee Salazar of Appalachian Animal Clinic in Bradley County said Panleukopenia is a tough virus that is very difficult to treat.
"They often have a poor response to treatment because it is such a severe virus that effects them quickly," Salazar said.
In the wake of Kami’s death, the SPCA put a temporary halt on all cat adoptions. The agency has roughly 40 cats but WDEF was told that half of them are in quarantine. A few cats didn’t survive.
"We did put down a few that we knew had it. When it was clear they were not going to survive; we did pit them down. Where these cats in contact with the other kitten? No. They were in a completely different room," Harvey said.
But Kami’s death is just one of many. WDEF has learned Panleukopenia cases are increasing throughout Bradley County and surrounding areas.
"We’re seeing a lot of cases here. I’m hearing reports in Ooltewah and other animal hospitals and clinics in the area. I’ve seen at least 12 cases and that’s just me; but we’re getting reports throughout the entire area of Panleukopenia definitely being on the rise," Salazar said.
Panleukopenia symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Yellow colored vomit
The symptoms can appear two to 10 days after exposure to the virus.
Veterinarians are urging people to not allow stray kittens into homes around cats without first making sure the kitten has been to a vets office for a checkup.
The virus is known to survive on household surfaces for many years; so if an infected cat is in your home, it’s a good idea to make sure floors and other surfaces the cat has touched is disinfected.
Veterinarians are also urging cat owners to make sure their cats are up to date on their vaccinations to keep them protected from an infected cat.
The virus does not affect dogs and humans.