Calicirirus, which is more commonly referred to as FCV, is a common viral disease in cats that is characterized by upper respiratory symptoms and can result in pneumonia and mouth sores. Although the original calcivirus was usually not life threatening, a new, more virulent strain, known as VS-FCV has been occurring recently. This mutation is highly contagious and can be spread both directly and indirectly.
In VS-FCV along with the respiratory signs, a cat will show signs of a high Cat Fever, hair loss on the face, feet and pinnas and Cat Nasal Discharge. This may be accompanied by a secondary immune response that results in organ damage, as well as a 60% death rate. Adult cats are more likely to succumb to this disease than are kittens.
How A Cat Contacts Calicivirus
A cat may contact calicivirus by coming into contact with another cat who has the disease or simply by coming in contact with an area where a diseased cat has been as it is believed that the virus may be found in feces, lost skin and hair and saliva. Eating out of the same dish as a cat with the virus or even sleeping in the same place may also result in an uninfected cat picking up the disease. Even a feline with little or no symptoms of the virus may be a carrier and infect other cats simply by shedding hair or eating from the same dish.
Once the disease begins in an area, strict hygiene is required to prevent the spread of the disease. The virus can remain alive for up to 4 weeks, so if your cat has been exposed, it is imperative that you isolate your cat as best as possible, wash everything with bleach that has been diluted with water and don’t introduce any new cats into your household until the risk of infection has passed.
If there is an outbreak of the virus in your home or area, it may be a good idea to isolate your cat even if he shows no signs of the disease. This can do one of two things. If your cat is healthy, then isolating him may protect him from contacting the disease. Also if he has come in contact with another cat carrying the disease and simply has shown no symptoms yet, isolation now could help contain and prevent the spread of the disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If the calicivirus has been reported in your area and your cat shows any signs of a respiratory condition such as a runny nose or sneezing, you should consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may consist of a variety of things such as supportive care, steroids and other medications. Be aware that the vaccination for the old calicivirus seems ineffective for this new mutation and that a new vaccination called CalciVax has been released.
The best way to prevent the spread of either strain of Calicivirus is to not allow your cat to wander free about the neighborhood especially if you live in a neighborhood where there are other felines.
Getting your cat vaccinated for the new mutation of the calicivirus and being alert to any outbreaks in your area, as well as taking steps to isolate your cat should outbreaks occur, may well keep your cat from contracting this disease and help prevent it from spreading any further. Since this disease is highly contagious it is best to be as cautious as possible.