Better safe than sorry
Feline infectious enteritis is one of the most deadly communicable diseases
Though feline infectious enteritis (FIE) is a fatal disease - which claims numerous cats annually - it can be prevented through simple means. Annual inoculation against this infectious disease is the most practical preventive measure, and it can eliminate concern about the spread of FIE among the feline community.
According to Dr Araya Phonsuwan, from Vet4Polyclinic Animal Hospital, FIE, also known as "feline panleukopenia" or "feline parvovirus", is a life-threatening disease, in which most infected cats die if not treated early.
"Feline infectious enteritis is one of the most deadly communicable diseases. Cats with lower immunities are easily susceptible and most will die shortly after since the infectious virus will quickly destroy their internal organs," explained the vet.
Cats that develop FIE show obvious symptoms including listlessness, loss of appetite, diarrhoea with blood and severe vomiting. Besides, their entire body will turn pale.
"If cat owners see any one of these signs, I strongly recommend them to take their infected cat to the vet immediately. Don't wait too long since the cat can die of dehydration," suggested the vet.
This disease occurs in cats of all ages. Kittens aged two months are most susceptible to the FIE virus, and the chances of them fully recovering are nil. But if the disease infects adult cats, their chances of survival are more positive since they are more immune. However, there is no guarantee.
According to the vet, it is easy to diagnose whether an infected cat has parvovirus. This virus destroys bone marrow and reduces the number of white blood cells. Therefore, a simple blood test can identify the level of white blood cells and determine whether or not the cat is infected.
When FIE breaks out, the whole feline community, within close vicinity, is prone to this "massacre" since the disease can spread far and wide in a short period. FIE can be transmitted by infected cats through fluids such as blood, saliva and mucus.
"The horrible thing about this disease is that it can spread like bush-fire. And the situation is aggravated further when lots of cats are living together in the same place. An infected cat will die within five to 10 days if not treated right away," the vet added.
The best way to reduce the severity of this phenomenon is to separate infected cats from the rest as soon as possible. But the best way to prevent this disease is to vaccinate cats, according to the inoculation timetable recommended by vets.
As for kittens, two injections are needed: When the kitten is eight weeks old and again when it's 15 months old. An adult cat must be given a booster shot every year throughout its lifetime. Adult cats that have never been vaccinated can receive a vaccination against FIE, so long as it hasn't developed an infection such as hepatitis and has no fever.
"Most of the cat owners I know pay no attention at all to this disease [FIE]. They only have their cat vaccinated for rabies since it is communicable to us. But giving their cat a vaccination for FIE is also necessary since it can help keep the animal healthy. If you can't keep your cat indoors at all times, it's best you follow the inoculation schedule," the vet said.