Cat Viral Infectious Diseases that are NOT Commonly Vaccinated For

Cat Viral Infectious Diseases that are NOT Commonly Vaccinated ForExamples of infectious agents that cause diseases in cats and vaccines exist, but are not commonly vaccinated for. These include:

Feline Coronavirus:  There are two types of coronaviruses that affect cats.  Testing for the presence of coronaviruses does not differentiate between the two groups of coronaviruses that result in very different degrees of severity of diseases in cats.

The first group of corona viruses that cause diseases in cats is the feline enteric coronaviruses.  This group causes mild and rarely fatal gastrointestinal diseases in cats.   The feline intestinal coronaviruses typically causes mild intestinal infections in kittens less than 12 weeks old.  Antibodies that kittens receive from their mother limits the severity of the infection.

The second group of coronaviruses that cause diseases in cats is commonly referred to as feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIP).  It causes diseases in cats most commonly between 6 months and 2 years of age.  The source of the virus is unknown, but it is thought to arise as a mutation of feline enteric coronaviruses.  It causes two forms of diseases in cats, an effusive or wet form and a non-effusive or dry form.   Both forms are commonly fatal.  Vaccines for FIP exist, but they are not thought to be very effective at preventing diseases in cats and have on occasion caused harm to cats.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV):  FIV is a retrovirus, similar to feline leukemia virus (FeLV).  Unlike FeLV, it has not been shown to cause cancer.  Like FeLV, it causes immunodeficiency diseases in cats characterized by low white blood cell counts, anemia and secondary infections.  Transmission of FIV is through bite wounds.  FIV testing involves testing for the presence of antibiodies.  This is one reason vaccination has not gained favor as testing for FIV antibiodies does not differentiate between vaccination and infection.  The vaccine is thought to be only 60% effective at protecting against infection.  Owners can best protect their cats by keeping them indoors away from free roaming cats most likely to harbor the virus.

Chlamydiosis: Chalmydia psittaci is a bacterial agent that (similar to viruses) is an obligate intracellular organism.  Cats are infected by contact with other cats infected with the organism through ocular and nasal secretions.  Signs of diseases in cats are mild to moderate sneezing and watery nasal discharge.  Since Chlamydiae are bacteria, they are sensitive to antibiotics, the most effective being tetracyclines.  Vaccination has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory signs.  However, in vaccination programs for feline respiratory diseases in cats, vaccination is considered much less important than that against feline rhinotracheitis virus and calicivirus.

Click here to learn about feline infectious diseases that are commonly vaccinated for.

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Dr Stephen Atwater

Stephen W. Atwater, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (oncology) is a board-certified veterinary oncology specialist. His professional interests include utilizing emerging therapies for difficult to treat cancers.

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