VETERINARIANS across Queensland have been put on alert for a deadly strain of cat flu that has already killed three pets in Ipswich.
The particular strain of the cat flu virus can break through vaccinations, meaning even if cat's shots are up to date, that won't offer protection.
Even with treatment, the virus has a 40% mortality rate, prompting the statewide warning.
A warning has been issued to veterinarian surgeries across Queensland.
Infectious disease expert Mark Kelman, President of Australian Small Animal Veterinary Special Interest Group, said studies are underway at Sydney University to confirm the cause of death in the three cases was in fact this strain of the virus.
He said this was the first time on the past 10 years the strain, although not yet confirmed in a lab, had been detected in Queensland.
In Sydney, there were confirmed outbreaks at two veterinary practices between December 2015 and January 2016.
"What we've seen with this particular virus - if it is what has caused the deaths - is we generally get an outbreak of a few cases and then disease burns up and disappears," Mr Kelman said.
"We have communicated with all vets in Queensland (on this suspected small outbreak) but at this stage a wider public notification isn't necessary.
"The message to people is, if they have a cat who is sick contact the vet immediately to seek guidance.
"If the cat is sick, don't allow it outside where it could potentially spread the disease.
"At this stage there isn't call for alarm, but there is for general caution.
"If your cat is kept inside it is unlikely to catch this disease."
Booval veterinary surgery had its first possible case last week and is waiting for lab results.
Booval vet Dr Scott Campbell agreed the best way to protect your cat was to limit potential exposure by keeping it inside.
"The infected animals are sadly dying," Dr Campbell said.
"That's even with specialist treatment including having the cats on respirators."
The strain can be easily transmitted by cats coming into contact with one another, clothing, shoes, bedding and other items.
The RSPCA has confirmed no cases have been discovered in either the Ipswich or Wacol shelters, but staff are on alert.
- Not eating
- Oral Ulcers
- Limb or head swelling
- Breathing difficulty
- Nasal sores
- Skin Ulcers
- Ear tip necrosis (where some of the flesh dies due to lack of blood supply)
What you can do
- The best way to protect your cat is to keep it inside and limit the potential exposure it has with other cats.
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