Rare cat virus not seen in 30 years

THE identity of a mystery virus which killed dozens of cats in Mildura earlier this year has been revealed.

Associate Professor Vanessa Barrs and Dr Liz Dawes, from Mildura Veterinary Hospital, inspect a cat earlier this year during a feline virus outbreak in Sunraysia.

Associate Professor Vanessa Barrs and Dr Liz Dawes, from Mildura Veterinary Hospital, inspect a cat earlier this year during a feline virus outbreak in Sunraysia.

Two leading experts in feline veterinary health visited Mildura in May to collect samples from cats that were infected with the virus in the hope of determining its origin.

Samples collected tested positive for feline panleukopenia – a virus which until recently had not been seen in Australian veterinary circles for more than 30 years.

The researchers were investigating whether the virus was panleukopenia, or a case of parvovirus which had been transmitted from dogs.

University of Sydney Associate Professor Vanessa Barrs said the outbreak of a virus rarely seen by vets showed viruses were never completely eradicated from the environment.

The virus was likely to have arrived in Mildura via a cat from Melbourne, with samples of the virus linking the recent Mildura outbreak to a previous one in Melbourne.

Outbreaks had been recorded in Melbourne between 2013 and 2014, as well as one in February this year.

The virus, able to be spread through the saliva and faecal matter of infected cats, is particularly insidious because of its ability to remain in the environment for long periods of time.

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