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Infectious diseases in cat shelters

DiGangi BA, Levy JK, Griffin B, et al. Prevalence of serum antibody titers against feline panleukopenia virus, feline herpesvirus 1, and feline calicivirus in cats entering a Florida animal shelter. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2012; 241: 1320-5.
Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), feline herpes virus 1 (FHV-1), and feline calicivirus (FCV) are widespread in the cat population, and particularly in shelter environments. The American Association of Feline Practitioners guidelines recommend that all cats at or over 4 weeks of age be vaccinated against these three viruses upon admission to animal shelters. However, the proportion of cats entering shelters that are already protected (i.e., seropositive) against infection (FPV) or disease (FHV-1 and FCV) because of prior vaccination or natural exposure is usually unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of and factors associated with seropositivity for FPV, FHV-1, and FCV in cats entering a Florida animal shelter.

Of 347 cats enrolled in this study, prevalence of seropositivity was 39.8%, 11.0% and 36.6% against FPV, FHV-1, and FCV, respectively. Factors associated with seropositivity included sterilization, age equal to or greater than 6 months, and relinquishment by an owner. Surprisingly, community origin (i.e., rural or urban), health status, signs of previous caregiving aside from sterilization, and outcome (i.e., adopted, transferred, euthanized, or reclaimed by owner) were not associated with seropositivity and should not be used to determine an individual cat’s need for vaccination. This study suggests that most cats admitted to an animal shelter do not have adequate antibody protection against infection or disease; therefore, the recommendation to vaccinate all cats admitted to an animal shelter is reasonable and vaccination should not be withheld due to signs of previous veterinary care. [GO]

See also: DiGangi BA, Gray LK, Levy JK, Dubovi EJ and Tucker SJ. Detection of protective antibody titers against feline panleukopenia virus, feline herpesvirus-1, and feline calicivirus in shelter cats using a point-of-care ELISA. J Feline Med Surg. 2011; 13: 912-8.