Q: What are the symptoms of feline calicivirus or FCV?
A: This virus manifests itself as an upper respiratory infection and is sometimes called “”cat flu.”” It commonly causes mouth ulcers, clear nose and eye discharge, sneezing, fever, lack of appetite and severe drooling.
Q: How serious is the spread of calicivirus?
A: Outbreaks for this upper respiratory disease among cats can be devastating. A cat that goes through a bout of FCV becomes a carrier and will shed the virus for weeks, or even years. According to a study published in the Jan. 15, 2004, issue of JAVMA, outbreak in Los Angeles began when four shelter cats introduced an especially virulent strain of calicivirus, FCV-Ari, into a hospital. The virus spread to two clinics and a rescue organization via infected surfaces, cat-to-cat contact, and human-to-cat contact by direct contact and fomites—objects such as clothing that transmit disease. Out of 54 suspected cases, 59 percent of adult cats and 14 percent of kittens younger than one year old died. Reasons for this high mortality rate are unknown.
The best way to protect your cat is to talk to your veterinarian about a risk and benefit analysis to determine whether a vaccine should be given.