Vaccination is the name of the game when it comes to preventing and minimizing outbreaks of panleukopenia in shelter cats. Some takeaways from the Koret Shelter Medicine Program info sheet on panleukopenia:
Kittens are at highest risk for this disease, and adult cats with current vaccinations are at very low risk.
Vaccination for panleukopenia is highly effective if performed correctly.
All cats 4-5 weeks of age and older should receive a modified live panleukopenia vaccine immediately upon shelter entry[.]
In addition to vaccination upon intake, shelters must follow appropriate cleaning protocols and housing requirements for all cats in order to prevent and minimize panleukopenia outbreaks. During an outbreak, Koret’s recommendations include:
- Quarantine and isolate all at-risk cats for [the virus's incubation period of] 14 days.
- Minimize foster kitten return and place new intakes into non-contaminated rooms.
Indianapolis Animal Care and Control is currently facing an outbreak of panleukopenia. Last week the pound killed 20 cats in response to the outbreak and announced that 80 more would be killed. Dawn Contos, the pound’s community outreach coordinator, told the media that the public is being asked not to drop off cats in need for the next 2 weeks. Any cats who are brought to the pound will be killed.
When asked about how the outbreak could have been prevented, Ms. Contos told WTHR:
“I don’t know that a vet could have prevented this. Honestly, what prevents panleukopenia is vaccinating your cats.”
She doesn’t know whether a vet could have prevented the outbreak. Because Indianapolis ACC doesn’t have one. The position, along with that of director, has been vacant almost all year. So in the absence of a leadership team, I guess the plan is kill every cat in the place and let the flying spaghetti monster sort them out.
She’s right on the vaccination issue though. So totally right. Although I notice she terms it as “your cats”, implying the so-called irresponsible public is at fault, when the cats currently at the shelter are in effect your cats, Ms. Contos. Taxpayers pay you and the rest of the staff to shelter them and protect them from harm. And the question must be asked, have you been vaccinating your cats per standard shelter protocols? Because if you have, there is no reason to worry about your adult cats – they are protected. In addition, some of your cats have likely already been vaccinated by their previous owners – so they are protected even if you have failed in your duties. And your kittens can safely be quarantined and monitored for symptoms. There is simply no need for a mass killing, whatever the case.
As often happens when these stories make it to the media, the irresponsible public immediately stepped up to save lives:
Several animal shelter and rescue organizations have worked to save more than 100 cats from what they considered unnecessary death at Indianapolis Animal Care and Control[.]
So while the Indianapolis pound continues to flail without a director or veterinarian, the public continues to work hard, trying to do the staff’s jobs for them, even as the pound spokesman attempts to foist blame on the very people networking, donating, fostering, and adopting.
IACC – your cats are alive today and safe in the care of the public. You’re welcome. But you’ll be taking in more cats, since that’s what taxpayers pay you to do. Will you start doing your jobs now?
(Thank you Clarice for the links.)