Another confirmed case of the potentially deadly feline panleukopenia in Kula has drawn concern because the infection is outside the original "hot zone" of the disease that is new to Maui, the Maui Humane Society reported Thursday.
"Having this confirmed case in an area outside our designated 'hot zone' would make it seem likely that the virus has started to spread and, due to our highly mobile society, will eventually be found throughout the island of Maui," the Maui Humane Society said.
This particular cat, under the care of his veterinarian, is doing well and is expected to survive, said the Maui Humane Society. The cat had been vaccinated about 17 days before falling ill and was likely vaccinated a few days before being exposed to the virus. The vaccine did not have enough time to provide full protection, but it likely gave him a better chance of survival.
The highly contagious feline virus was first confirmed on Maui in late May in a colony of Upcountry cats, Miyo Miyasaki-Kim, the Maui Humane Society's director of veterinary service, said last week.
Three cats brought in to the Maui Humane Society in early June from Kahului also tested positive, though Miyasaki-Kim indicated that they could have been infected at the animal shelter.
There were hopes that the spread of the virus had been stemmed, with no new reports from early June. Then, this case was reported.
The panleukopenia virus, also called cat distemper, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever and sudden death, according to the Maui Humane Society. The disease is prevalent on the Mainland but is uncommon in Hawaii.
Even if pet cats do not go outside, the virus still can be spread via humans tracking it on their shoes and clothing. Cat-to-cat contact is not necessary to spread the disease.
The vaccination is a standard feline core vaccine that provides protection from the virus as well as most upper respiratory diseases, such as herpes and calicivirus. Cat owners are encouraged to vaccinate their cats as soon as possible.
Maui Humane Society will be holding three vaccination clinics at the shelter, beginning Saturday and again on July 12 and 19, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Clinics will be held in the Maui Humane Society's modular building behind the main shelter building. Cost is by donation. Parking will be available next to the building or along the roadway.
These clinics are meant for friendly, tame cats. Cats and kittens should be at least 6 weeks old, and all cats should be transported in secure carriers. Cats in improper carriers will not be accepted. Carriers are available for rent from the humane society, and cardboard carriers may be purchased at the shelter ahead of time for $10.
Feral cats should not be brought to the vaccine clinics.