ISSN 2398-2950      

Feline panleukopenia (parvo)


Synonym(s): Feline panleucopenia virus, feline infectious enteritis (FIE, feline parvo (FPV




  • Family: Parvoviridae.


  • Parvo - latin for small.
  • Pan = all, leuko = white, penia = lack of. Hence pan-leuko-penia = decrease of all white blood cells.

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Clinical Effects



  • Contact  →  replicates in lymphoid tissue  →  lymphatics  →  viremia  →  rapidly dividing cells.
  • Grow in nucleus of dividing cells, rapid immune response by cat eliminates virus which then survives in the environment for up to a year until next susceptible animal ingests it.


  • FPV is shed in the feces of infected cats for a short period of time, usually up to 48 hours, but has been documented for up to 6 weeks. Most infections occur by indirect transmission, from a contaminated environment, by ingestion of virus.
  • Transplacental.

Pathological effects

  • FPV is highly immunogenic. Protection is humoral, hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) titers of up to 256 follow vaccination and antibody titers of greater than 1024 usually indicate that natural exposure to FPV has occurred.
  • Severity of disease varies from subclinical to death.
  • Lesions usually present in jejunum and ileum, petechial hemorrhages on serosal and mucosal surfaces.
  • Destruction of crypt cells lead to loss of villous epithelium and massive fluid loss into gut   →   death due to dehydration.
    • The cat may vomit Vomiting.
    • If the cat survives long enough, profuse, watery diarrhea may occur. Diarrhea may be hemorrhagic.
    • Temperature normal to subnormal.
  • Decrease of all white blood cells.
  • Sudden death, especially of kittens, may be confused with poisoning.
  • Cerebellar hypoplasia - ataxia when kittens start to walk at 10-14 days old.


Control via chemotherapies

Control via environment

  • Disinfection using hypochlorite or glutaraldehyde disinfectants may help to reduce virus dose but will not eliminate infection.
  • In an environment contaminated with FPV, no susceptible cats or kittens should be introduced until at least a year after the outbreak. Pregnant queens should be removed to a clean area, ie other premises, until the kittens are old enough to be fully vaccinated.


  • Modified live and inactivated vaccines Therapeutics: immunological preparation are available.
  • In the absence of maternally derived antibody (MDA), kittens as young as 7-12 days can respond to vaccination.
  • Modified live vaccines should not be given to pregnant queens (danger of cerebellar hypoplasia in kittens) or kittens up to 4 weeks old.
  • MDA levels as low as titer 10 can interfere with vaccination up to 19-20 weeks of age, though most kittens can be successfully vaccinated at 12 weeks old. If the queen has a high antibody titer, or there is a history of FPV infection in the premises, check the post-vaccinal antibody titer, which should be greater than 64 for protection. The half-life of MDA to FPV is 9.5 days.
  • A plant-derived parvovirus vaccine protected mink (Dalsgaard et al, 1997) but no such product is yet commercially available for cats.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Gamoh K, Shimazaki Y, Senda M et al (2003) Antigenic type distribution of parvovirus isolated from domestic cats in Japan. Vet Rec 153 (24), 751-752 PubMed.
  • Dawson S, Willoughby K, Gaskell R M et al (2001) A field trail to assess the effect of vaccination against feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus and feline panleucopenia virus in 6-week old kittens. J Feline Med Surg (1), 17-22 PubMed.
  • Dawson S, Gaskell R & Jarrett O S (1999) Vaccination in cats - an update. In Practice 21 (2), 71-74 VetMedResource.
  • Addie D D, Toth S, Thompson H et al (1998) Detection of feline parvovirus in dying pedigree kittens. Vet Rec 142 (14), 353-356 PubMed.
  • Dalsgaard K, Uttenthal A, Jones T D et al (1997) Plant-derived vaccine protects target animals against a viral disease. Nat Biotechnol 15 (3), 248-252 PubMed.
  • Mochizuki M, Horiuchi M, Hiragi H et al (1996) Isolation of canine parvovirus from a cat manifesting clinical signs of feline panleukopenia. J Clin Microbiol 34 (9), 2101-2105 PubMed.
  • Truyen U, Evermann J F, Vieler E et al (1996) Evolution of canine parvovirus involved loss and gain of feline host range. Virology 215 (2), 186-189 PubMed.


Supplier of Parvo Clinic tests
  • European Veterinary Laboratory- Zaagmolenlaan 4, 3447GS WOERDEN, The Netherlands. Fax: 00 31 3484 14626.
Virus detection, antibody measurements, histopathology
  • Feline Virus Unit- Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Glasgow, Bearsden Road, Glasgow, G61 1QH, Scotland. Tel: + 44 141 330 5777; Fax: + 44 141 330 5748; E-mail:

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