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Need your help: distemper

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I am so incredibly sad... I foster for the local SPCA and have an assortement of kittens in the house. They were all fine and happy. Then 2 weesk ago the SPCA called and asked if I had room for a very pregnant momma cat so I said sure. She was kept separate from the others as I do with all my new arrivals. A week after she arrived, she got really sick, starting leaking "yellow fluid" (amneotic fluid or urine ?) was hypothermic and totally lethargic. She went back to the SPCA where their vet said it might be distemper. She was euthnised immediately to end her sufering and the possible contamination of the other cats at the shelter.

A nervous week went by as I watched the others cats for signs. I was starting to get less nervous but then Beara, my beautifull fuzzy black kitten stopped eating and became lethargic. She was 10 weeks old. The next morning, off to the vet we went and he confirmed distemper. My heart sunk... Not only did this mean that Beara would die, it would mean that all my other kittens in foster care would soon catch it and die as well. I took her home yesterday morning (praying for miracles) but she got worse throughout the day so I finally brought her back last night for euthanasia. She was so weak, when she vomitted bile, she didn't have the strength to move and would collapse in it until I moved her. She was such a pittiful sight...

Now I'm on "death watch" with the remaining 3 kittens who so far are doing good. No signs yet, no loss of appetite or vomitting. Everytime I see them eat, I think "well, they'll make it through today" but I know it's only a matter of time - they were in close contact with Beara all week (before she was sick) and they all slept together the day before she started her symptoms.

Anyways, all this long, horrible, story brings me to my first question: how do I disinfect an entire house from the damn panleukopenia virus ? I can wash floors with dilute bleach and wash all surfaces (counter tops, etc...) but how do I do clothes ? the sofa ? the stuffed animals on my daughter's bed that they would sleep in during the day ? Every crack and crevice she might have gotten into ? (it's a big house from a virus point of view). The SPCA gave me some Vircon so I can spray all solid surfaces. How do I ensure it's all gone ?

My second question: I love being a foster family. I love having kittens jump on my bed at 2 am and snuggle me, I love having to step over them as I try to put the food bowl down, I love having them stand on the outside of the shower trying to catch the soap as it slides down the shower wall. I just love the whole thing ! When will my house be safe for the little guys again ? I've heard everything from 1-6 months (staff at SPCA) to 1 year (my vet) to never. Must I give up my love of fostering ?

3rd (and last) question: After I currently have (before this all happened) a momma (Mrs. Norris) and her 3 kittens in a confined room. They have never had contact with any of the others cats except my cay who is vaccinated. I call him my ambassader - he gets to visit the new arrivals. Anyways, they are all doing well but I can't help but think it's a matter of time for them too. My daughter and I have travelled between the rest of the house (where my other kittens, including Bear are/were) and Mrs Norris' room. We certainly could have brought the virus in on our hands/clothes ? My husband suggested they be brought back to the SPCA in case they have no been infected yet - what do you think ? On the other hand, if they have caught it, I'll know soon enough... incubation is 7-10 days...

Help..... my heart hurts and I miss Beara...
a very sad Julie
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
Just though of another question: Would it be safe to keep fostering *IF* the pregnant mom is vaccinated ?

From my research on this forum, I see that you can vacciante using a killed vaccine (panleuk = FPV right ?). It's probably not the best solution to vaccinate a pregnant cat but it might give them all a better chance. With kitten season coming up, I know the shelters need every helping hand they can get and I love fostering.

So, if I am offered a pregnant cat, can I vaccinate her (using a KILLED paleuk-rhino-calici vaccine) - I assume she would then pass on the immunity to her kittens for a few weeks until they are ready for their vaccines at 8 weeks of age ?

*still very sad *
post #3 of 5
Are your kittens vaccinated against distemper?

Festie was born at my house, but when she was 8-10 weeks old I took in Gar and his twin brother Odie. Within days, Odie had died of distemper. Garfield went back to the vet, and his mother ended up needing blood transfusions to survive!

Festus and her litter were totally exposed, but since they had their distemper vaccines two weeks before we got Garfield and Odie, all they got was mild diarrhea. They had a course of antibiotics, and were just fine.

I quit fostering kittens for a year. I only took older kittens/cats who had their distemper vaccines. My "kitten room" is just a spare bedroom, and it is carpeted. There was no way to sanitize it from distemper. And like you said, the kitties had been in all the kids beds, etc. And we took Garfield back in, and I figured he would be contagious to any kittens for a while.

Distemper can be transmitted on your shoes, on your clothes, etc. We lost a young dog once to distemper. Friends visited who had lost a dog less than a week before they visited to diarrhea. Our dog Jack was overdue for his vaccinations, and within a week was dead. Our babysitter borrowed his crate for their puppy. I advised her to clean it with bleach, but she used pine sol. Her puppy got distemper...but survived because she was vaccinated against it. Note, none of these dogs ever met each other...the virus was transmitted by us!

Distemper is horrible. I am sorry you have been touched by it.
post #4 of 5
Oh my gosh I'm so sorry about this!

I really don't know too much about the virus because I haven't had to deal with it, but as for cleaning, two things came to mind.

For soft surfaces - didn't clorox just come out with a fabric refresher spray that's supposed to kill all sorts of bacteria? I don't know if it'll kill your specific bacteria, but it might be worth checking out.

For hard surfaces - isn't Lysol a hard surface sanitizer? (maybe? i think?) Granted it's probably not as wonderful as bleach, but it might help for hard to reach places.

OH OH! Another thought! Apple Cider vingear is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. I don't think it harms clothing, so maybe you could add it to the wash cycle to help clear things out. (The vinegar smell goes away. You won't smell like a salad, I promise )
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
I have been given Vircon from the SPCA and am using that to disinfect every surface. I don't think I'd trust anything lese than that or bleach to disinfect - I heard that those are the only 2 things that will kill the virus (bleach and vircon). It is just impossible to clean and entire house. When kittens are tiny, they get into everything - every corner of the house, you open a door and they're there ! You open the fridge door, they jump in, the closets, under the stairs, behind the washing machine... lots of room for a virus to hide...

I just wish I had a solid answer to "how long does the virus live in a regular house". As I've mentionned, I've heard everything from 1 month to 1 year (even 6 years at some point)

Beckiboo, that's a terrifying story ! So many little lives taken by a virus and them having never been in contact ! Wow... makes me wary of it even more. My fosters are not vaccinated as the SPCA only does this after adoption. They are about 4 months old by that time. I talked to them today about using FelOVax to vaccinate pregnant moms and they don't do it as they say it can cause premature labour or death in the kittens (I haven't found that anywhere only though... come to think of it they are the same people who told me that pregnant or nursing moms can't be deflea-ed)

Anything anyone can suggest is more than welcome...

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