Feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious viral disease of cats that cause vomiting, diarrhea and immune-suppression, and is fatal in up to ninety percent of cases. Of all cats, shelter cats are most vulnerable to infection and are least likely to be protected from vaccination. Once exposed to the virus, whether by low-level natural infection or by vaccination, cats are fully protected against disease for at least three years. The aim of this study is to determine the extent to which shelter and owned cats are immune to disease as a result of naturally occurring viral exposure or vaccination. In addition, risk factors associated with the absence of protective antibodies will be identified. Measurements will be made of the levels of antibodies in the blood to the viruses that cause feline panleukopenia in cats from regions with recent disease outbreaks and in cats from regions with no reported outbreaks of disease.
The results of this study will provide valuable insights into whether low population immunity has been a major driver for the re-emergence of feline panleukopenia. This data, combined with identification of risk factors for susceptibility to FPV/CPV infection, will enable the design of more effective prevention vaccination and biosecurity strategies to protect shelter cats and owned cats from future disease outbreaks.