Pet Health Alert: Deadly Virus Risk

Below is a news item from the Australian Veterinary Association website from Thursday, 8 May 2014: 

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is urging cat owners to get their cats vaccinated against the deadly parvovirus, with cases on the rise in parts of Melbourne.

Dr Trish Stewart, President of the AVA’s Victoria Division said that feline parvovirus, otherwise known as feline enteritis or panleucopaenia, is highly contagious and that Melbourne cat owners should be on high alert.

“While the disease is mostly spread through contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids, faeces and urine, contaminated objects such as shoes, clothing, cages, flooring, fleas and food and water bowls can also be sources of the disease spreading.

“Prevention of the disease is through routine cat vaccinations and we urge all cat owners to ensure their cats are vaccinated,” she said.

According to Dr Mark Kelman who runs Australia’s national pet disease surveillance system, the Disease Watchdog (, there have been no reported cases of the killer disease in the last four years but over 50 cases have been reported in the last few months.

Areas where cases have been reported include Altona, Altona Meadows, Broadmeadows, Coolaroo, Deer Park, Fawkner, Hoppers Crossing, Laverton, Meadow Heights, Melton West, Pascoe Vale, Preston, Reservoir, South Melbourne, Spotswood, St Albans, Thornbury, Werribee and Wyndham Vale.

Dr Trish Stewart said that people need to act quickly if they think their cat has contracted the disease as many cats, especially younger and older cats, can deteriorate quickly, and if left untreated the disease can be fatal within 24 hours.

“Signs of feline parvovirus include dehydration, fever, depression, loss of appetite and vomiting. Cats with any of these symptoms should seek veterinary treatment immediately.”

“The unexpected resurgence of the disease can’t yet be explained but it’s speculated that weather conditions favourable to the virus and under-vaccinating could have led to the outbreaks,” she said.

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or[email protected].

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 7500 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.