TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › How contagious is distemper?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How contagious is distemper?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yesterday I went to get a Freecycled hermit crab enclosure at a farm. Of course all the cats were intact, and they had dozens of sick, dirty kittens. It was very sad . I tried not to touch them, but I had to move them out of the walkway or they would have been stepped on. I only touched them with my hands (I didn't hold them to my shirt or anything), and washed my hands as soon as I could.

I'm not worried about my cats---they're old enough to have developed immunity, and were all vaccinated about 4 years ago (except the youngest 2, vaccinated last year). But my cousin found some baby kittens a few weeks ago, and I went to visit them today. Now I realize I'm wearing the same shirt I wore to the farm yesterday. Shoot! Will they get sick? How contagious are kitten illnesses?
post #2 of 11
Short answer: highly contagious, as it can survive in carpets, and furnishings for more than a year.

Quote:
It is spread by direct contact with infected animals or their secretions. Contaminated food dishes, bedding, litter boxes, and the clothes or hands of people who have treated an infected cat are other routes of exposure
from The cat owners home veterinary handbook.

I take it you may have held the kittens to your shirt?

The only way it would get on your shirt is if it was on your hands and you wiped them on your shirt, or an infected cat was held on your shirt.



(if you want more info from the book I have, I'd be happy to reword what it says if you have more questions)
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I didn't hold any sick kittens to my shirt, but I did hold and cuddle my cousin's kitties.....they're about 5 weeks old now from what I can tell, 3 boys and a longhaired girl (who is so cute I'm going to have a terrible time not taking her home when she's old enough). Wow, I hope they don't get sick. How effective is vet treatment for distemper at this age?
post #4 of 11
It's hard for kittens to survive distemper, esp. that young. If caught *very* early, the kittens have a better chance of survival. I've tried saving 12 week old kittens with distemper who were at a healthy weight, to no avail....and even then it was caught early.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willowy View Post
Wow, I hope they don't get sick. How effective is vet treatment for distemper at this age?
I have no personal experience with this, just going by what I've read (did alot of that when Pax became ill).

Treatment seems to be fluids, antibiotics, nutrition and occassionally blood transfusions.

Symptoms appear 2-10 days after exposure.

Early signs: loss of appetite, severe apathy, fever, vomiting.

One thing stressed in the book is that it is better to consult your vet on a false alarm than to wait untill the cat is desperatly ill.

If you have a good vet, I would call them tomorrow and explain what happened to get their input.

(think of the rapidness that happened with Pax...)

Alot of this is "what if"...the cats may not have distemper, or if they do, it may not have gotten on your shirt, thus no contact with your cousin.

Also, if they are young kittens, they may still have mom's antibodies.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, the kitties have been away from their mother and have been getting formula for a couple weeks now. They were found in my cousin's boat, no mother around. I'm sure if they left them, the mother would have come back for them....but too late now. I don't know if they have any antibodies left.

OK, those symptoms do not sound like what is locally referred to as "distemper". These sick kitties had goopy, swollen eyes and snotty noses. They eat and do not vomit. Almost all farm kittens in the area contract this disease, about half survive. I assume it's not really panleukopenia, but it's always referred to as distemper. Anyone know what it really is?
post #7 of 11
Growing up, it was called the "whiny disease". It is essentially, IMO, a combination of the herpes virus/URI.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
Growing up, it was called the "whiny disease". It is essentially, IMO, a combination of the herpes virus/URI.
in addition, I had asked my vet about distemper with Pax, and he said people (vets) generally group a bunch of different viruses under the title Distemper...they use it as a catch all phrase.

The more severe symptoms of panleukopenia are diarrhea (yellow or blood streaked), vomitting repeatedly bringin up frothy, yellow stained bile..if they can eat or drink, they immediately vomit afterwards... apparant symptoms of pain....pain in the abdomen..... (mortality rate in kittens is 90%)
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
OK, I should change the title, LOL. How contagious is this herpes/URI? And if my cousin's kitties get it, how effective is treatment?
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willowy View Post
OK, I should change the title, LOL. How contagious is this herpes/URI? And if my cousin's kitties get it, how effective is treatment?
same answer.....fairly contagious.....but, alot of it depends on the cat/kittens immune system.

Kizzy came to me with URI (unsure of the virus, thinking either herpes or calicivirus), which he probally had for a while. We (my vet and I) believe he is now a chronic carrier and are leaning towards it being calicivirus rather than herpes.

HOWEVER, it is contracted via direct contact with infected distarge from the eyes, nose, mouth...water bowls, secretions on human hands and rarely by airborne droplets.

Early symptoms: sneezing, watery discharge from eyes and nose...progressing to fever, apathy, loss of appetite.

Kizzy gets the sneezing and discharge from eyes and nose. He fights it off on his own.

herpesvirus: can develop a cough, and eye problems.

Calicivirus: ulceration of the mucous membranes of the mouth which leads to refusing to eat, drink, and drooling... Shortness of breath and viral pneumonia can occur. (This is what we believe happened to Pax) He was NOT strong enough to fight it off. Kitchi was strong enough to fight it off.

In Kizzy's case, assuming he is a chronic carrier, he can shed the virus in times like now (exhibiting symptoms) which is why he is seperated from Kitchi.

My "guess" is the cats you saw had URI's (herpesvirus based) and end up fighting them off on their own. IF that is the case, the kittens should be ok, but I would make sure they have no stress (lower immunity). If she observes any sneezing bouts (like more than 3 sneezes a day for no reason) or nasal discharge, they should see a vet.


ETA: short answer to your direct question: It is highly contagious (but easily overcome by a strong immune system), and treatment is effective. (antibiotics to manage moderate to severe RI's...not recommended for mild ones.... L-lysine helps if it is herpesvirus....humidifying the cat helps clear nasal passages) Most kitties can fight off herpes based viruses quite easily...may not even show symptoms after being exposed.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Dang, one of them died . One of the boys.....but none of them are showing signs of illness. There is some doubt as to whether the 16-year-old girls (my cousin and her friend) who were watching them actually fed them or not. So maybe that was the cause of death. He died on Monday and his body was still IN THE ROOM, tied up in a bag. I can't believe they didn't at least put the bag outside. I'm definitely taking them, at least for the weekend. Then my older cousin will be back to take care of them and we'll re-evaluate who will keep them. I hope it wasn't a contagious illness.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Health
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › How contagious is distemper?