MOUNDSVILLE – The Marshall County Animal Shelter will remain closed for two weeks due to an outbreak of the virus in a group of kittens.
The shelter made the announcement Thursday on social media. A litter of kittens dropped off at the shelter the week of June 20 showed symptoms of a virus called feline panleukopenia. The kittens tested positive for the virus on June 30.
“Feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious disease. Symptoms may not appear until two weeks after exposure,” the shelter wrote on its Facebook page.
“On the recommendation and advice of veterinarian Paige Stoehr, DVM, the Marshall County Animal Shelter will be closed to the public for a period of two weeks.”
While the shelter is closed, it cannot accommodate new animals or proceed with adoptions. No visitors are allowed either. Staff members do a thorough cleaning of the facility.
The shelter recommends that people who have adopted animals from the shelter since June 20 to contact it for more information.
“We hope our community will understand during this time that the decision to temporarily close is for the health and safety of the animals currently in our care, as well as the animals in the community,” shelter officials wrote.
“The health and safety of animals is always our number one priority. Remember that vaccines save lives. Feline panleukopenia can be prevented by ensuring that your house cats are up to date with their basic annual vaccinations.
Abby Bateman, director of the Marshall County Animal Shelter, said Friday the kittens did not survive the illness and died.
“Unfortunately, those who were sick did not survive,” she says.
She noted that the virus is very hard on kittens because their immune system is not fully developed. The virus can be prevented by vaccination, but the group of kittens, estimated to be 7-8 weeks old, had only received the first of a series of three vaccines before falling ill.
Bateman said it’s also important for adult cats to get their routine vaccinations. The FVRCP shot combination contains vaccines against three different feline viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.
“We’re just deep cleaning now to make sure no one else who comes here comes into contact with this,” Bateman said.
She noted that the shelter had to throw away all of its towels and blankets to prevent the possible spread of the virus. She said the shelter needed bleach, towels, washcloths and paper towels. Objects can be left in front of the entrance door of the refuge.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, feline panleukopenia does not infect humans. Early signs of the virus in cats include “generalized depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, runny nose, and dehydration.”
Bateman said once the shelter reopens, he will likely extend his $50 dog adoption promotion aimed at getting as many shelter dogs weighing 50 pounds or more from new homes.
“It was fine, but we still have a few more,” she said of the bigger dogs.
Bateman said adoptions at all levels have been slower due to the state of the economy and inflation. To date, there has not been a large influx of people abandoning their animals due to inflation, she said.