Maui Humane Society Confirms Deadly Virus in Upcountry Cat

June 10, 2014, 9:09 AM HST · Updated June 10, 10:28 AM
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Photo by Wendy Osher.

Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

The Maui Humane Society has confirmed a case of the deadly feline panleukopenia virus in a cat colony Upcountry, and says there’s also a suspected unconfirmed case in Kahului.

The illness is a highly contagious virus that is common on the mainland, but very rare in the islands, according to officials with the Maui Humane Society.

Signs of the virus can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, and even sudden death within just a few days, officials said.

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Agency representatives say vaccination is a highly effective way to protect cats from the virus, which can be spread through indirect contact.

The Maui Humane Society released the following list of precautions suggested for cat owners and colony caretakers in an effort to protect cats and keep the virus from spreading to epidemic levels.

  • If your cat or kitten displays any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Cat owners, particularly owners of kittens, are urged to contact their veterinarians to make sure their pets are fully up-to-date on their vaccines.
  • The Maui Humane Society recommends permanent identification, which can include a tattoo or microchip to ensure that cats can be  returned to owners quickly if they roam and end up in the hands of the shelter.
  • If you see a sick, dying, or dead cat in your neighborhood, call the Maui Humane Society at 877-3680 ext 23. This will help the organization to identify areas of the island where the virus may have spread.

If you are bringing a cat to the Maui Humane Society shelter, the organization advises that the following procedures be followed to protect other shelter cats:

  • If the cat shows signs of illness, notify the shelter front office staff before bringing the cat into the building. They will assist in taking the cat immediately to a designated intake area.
  • If dropping off cats in the after-hours holding kennels when the shelter is closed, the public is asked to help by filling out the intake form on the kennel indicating what area the cat is from. This allows staff to track the potential spread of the disease.
  • If you are bringing your own pet cat to the shelter for possible adoption, it should have current vaccinations or be vaccinated at least one week prior to entering the shelter. If you plan to bring an unvaccinated cat, contact the shelter in advance for instructions and options.

Representatives at the Maui Humane Society say feline panleukopenia can survive in the environment for an extended period of time, and can be carried home to pets by individuals who have come in contact with areas of the island that are infected.

According to the Maui Humane Society, cats may be subject to shortened holding times if they arrive at the shelter with no known ownership and unknown vaccine history.

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