YHS Experiencing Serious Feline Calicivirus Outbreak

06 December 2010   Ed Boks, Director, Yavapai Humane Society
No cats will be accepted at the shelter while extraordinary humane rescue effort continues in partnership with PETsMART charities.

catpicPrescott, Arizona December 6, 2010 – The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) is experiencing a serious Feline calicivirus (FCV) outbreak. It first broke on Sunday, December 5th. Calicivirus is of the family Caliciviridae, an upper respiratory disease. The prevalence of FCV varies depending on the environment. In private households, FCV is present in about 10 percent of cats (either in active or carrier state), while the prevalence in shelters is 25 to 40 percent.

In a shelter environment this disease is highly contagious and spreads like wildfire. That is why most shelters respond to an outbreak by quickly euthanizing every symptomatic and exposed cat.

A more humane response is quarantine, but because FCV is very contagious and latently infected cats continue to spread the virus, complete control is difficult. An outbreak of calicivirus at a humane society in Missouri in 2007 led to the euthanasia of the entire cat population (almost 200 cats) in order to contain it. FCV may survive several days to weeks in a dry environment and longer in a cooler, wet environment.

YHS has 35 exposed cats. 26 are symptomatic. Seven exposed cats went into foster homes. Two exposed cats are in isolation at the main shelter. YHS is putting a hold on accepting any more cats until the outbreak is under control.

YHS is in the process of implementing a quarantine strategy for the remaining 26 cats. Ed Boks, executive director for YHS, successfully implemented a similar strategy in New York City where Boks ran New York’s City’s Animal Care & Control. There, his medical team treated over 200 infected cats after getting them off site until the disease abated. A barn was used in upstate New York.

Hoping to save these cats in a similar way, YHS has secured a local quarantine facility offsite. PETsMART Charities is partnering with YHS in this rescue effort by donating 26 collapsible cages, 26 carriers, 60 water/food bowls, disposable litter pans, cat litter, and enough food for these cats.

YHS is requesting cat loving volunteers wanting to help with this effort to contact them at 928-445-2666. Donations to help these cats can be made to YHS’ STAR (Special Treatment And Recovery) program by calling 928.445.2666 Ext. 20 or online at www.yavapaihumane.org.