Animal programs

Kitten virus outbreak forces quarantine at North Carolina animal shelter

A virus is spreading among kittens at a Charlotte-area animal shelter, and because of it, other cats aren’t being accepted. So far, five kittens have been euthanized.

Over the past week, some kittens have been infected with panleukopenia at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Animal Protection and Control Department, officials said.

The health of the five infected kittens declined rapidly after their diagnosis on Friday, human education specialist Julia Conner told The Charlotte Observer by email.

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A virus among Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Animal Care and Control’s kitten population has forced the shelter to close some of its adoption kennels, officials announced Monday, July 11, 2022. Courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Animal Care and Control

Panleukopenia is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease that affects cats and dogs.

In cats, the disease is also known as feline distemper or feline parvo, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The most exposed to the virus are the shelter’s kittens, who have not yet been vaccinated against the disease, the shelter said on Facebook. Most kittens receive the vaccine at four weeks, according to the UC Davis Shelter Medicine program.

As part of a 14-day quarantine, the shelter’s nursery and some of its adoption kennels are closed to the public. The shelter is also not accepting new cats at this time.

“Because this virus spreads so quickly, we encourage anyone who finds orphaned kittens in need of bottle-feeding to consider fostering them through our foster program and not bringing them into our home. shelter,” the shelter said. “You will put these kittens in danger if you do.”

Signs of feline panleukopenia that pet owners should look for include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, anorexia, and lethargy.

Kittens with a mother or eating alone may be refused, the shelter said.

Anyone looking to return their cats and kittens should consider posting on rehoming websites, shelter officials said.

Some cats and kittens are still available for adoption at the shelter, if they received their vaccinations and were in a less exposed area, Conner said. The shelter will provide education about the virus to those who adopt these cats, she said.

Through July 31, all pets are free to adopt with a donation through the Bissell Pet Foundation’s Empty the Shelters campaign, Conner said.

Kallie Cox covers public safety for The Charlotte Observer. They grew up in Springfield, Illinois and attended school at SIU Carbondale. They reported on police accountability and barriers to LGBTQ immigration for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. And, they previously worked at the Southern Illinoisan before moving to Charlotte.