On atypical occasions vsFCV–Virulent systemic FCV infection outbreaks of disease have been sited with dreadfully much more pathogenic strains of FCV termed vsFCV. These are linked with mutations of the virus that permit infection to be established in the cells that line blood vessels and within different organs. This can turn into severe disease including pancreatitis, pneumonia, skin swelling and ulceration, hepatitis (liver inflammation), and bleeding from the nose and intestine. Providentially these outbreaks are extremely rare, still up to 50% or more of affected cats may die
In most instances, a precise diagnosis of FCV infection will not be required. The presence of typical signs of URI is certainly enough for a presumptive diagnosis of FCV and/or the feline herpesvirus – FHV infection. If an exact diagnosis is necessary, ocular or oral swabs can be turned in to a veterinary laboratory where the virus can be grown in culture or, more normally, detected by PCR–a molecular method for detecting the genetic material of the virus.
FCV infections are regularly complicated by secondary bacterial infections, so helpful treatment with antibiotics is usually requisite. Good nursing care is significant and felines may need to be hospitalized for nutritional support and intravenous fluid therapy in brutal cases. Nebulisation or steam inhalation may help in cases of severe nasal congestion and as the feline will not be able to smell food very well, using tinned or sachet foods that are gently warmed will indeed help.
In colonies of cats, any cat showing clinical signs should be isolated if at all possible, and strict hygiene should be ensured with disinfection, and use of separate feeding bowls, litter trays, implements etc, careful washing of hands, use of separate (or disposable) apron etc.
Vaccination for FCV is imperative for all cats. Two or three injections are suggested in kittens, starting at around 8 weeks of age. All felines should be given a booster at a year of age, and following that should receive additional booster vaccines every 1-3 years.
Vaccination does not of necessity prevent infection with FCV but will seriously reduce the severity of clinical disease. Moreover, as there are many diverse strains of the virus, it is difficult to devise a vaccine that will protect against all of them. Some of the newer vaccines integrate more than one strain of FCV to supply a broader range of protection.
Shots are extremely important, never skimp on this important feature in cat care.