Virulent Systemic Feline Calicivirus
Although many people may not be familiar with the disease itself,
the calicivirus is fairly common and its prevention has been a part of
the normal vaccine protocol (FVRCP -commonly referred to as feline distemper)
given to cats annually.
However, a new strain of this virus called
the VS-FCV (Virulent Systemic Feline Calicivirus) was discovered less
than a decade ago, but unlike its original form of a standard upper
respiratory infection, this strain is often fatal.
The symptoms of
this new strain are similar, but much more severe, than those of the
old strain of calicivirus.
These symptoms include:
- not eating
- high fever
- nasal and ocular discharge
- sores/ulcers on the lips, nose, and tongue
- swelling of the face and/or limbs – sometimes accompanied by hair loss
The VS-FCV disease had previously been thought to be very rare,
occurring only in sporadic small outbreaks, usually in shelter situations.
Infectious disease specialists now believe this strain to be far more common than
previously thought, just not properly diagnosed, due to lack of knowledge and awareness.
There have been thousands of cases reported nationwide over the last several years.
This new virulent calicivirus virus is very dangerous and
is fatal in approximately half the cats who contract it.
Those that do recover are contagious for about 4 months after recuperation.
There is no cure or specific treatment for this disease,
other than to provide is supportive care.
This disease is highly contagious and can be spread directly from
cat to cat AND on clothing or household objects.
Bleach is the only disinfectant that kills the virus.
A new vaccine has recently been developed that protects cats from the new VS-FCV
(in addition to all those diseases prevented by the old vaccine.)
We strongly recommend that all cats that go outside be vaccinated
against this new virus strain.
Cats receiving the new vaccine for the first time require
an additional booster vaccine in 3-4 weeks.
Thereafter, the vaccine is annual as with the old vaccine.
As with all vaccinations, none are 100% effective.
In vaccine studies for this new vaccine 75% of cats exposed to the virus had
complete protection and the remaining 25% showed only minor symptoms
for a day or two and then fully recovered.