MEDLEY (CBS4) – A highly contagious illness at Miami-Dade County Animal Services has claimed the lives of 72 kittens that had to be euthanized since the outbreak was first reported on Friday.
The illness, called feline panleukopenia, is highly contagious and attacks the gastrointestinal tract. All cats at the shelter that show symptoms are being euthanized.
“All it takes is one cat to be shedding the virus,” said Dr. Maria Serrano, a veterinarian at Miami-Dade Animal Services.
Feline panleukopenia is a leading cause of death in kittens. It is spread by direct contact with an infected animal or through food pans and litter boxes.
Veterinarians and other workers are taking extra precautions to prevent other cats from getting sick.
They’ve moved every cat to a new temporary holding facility.
CBS4 cameras were not even allowed inside because the virus is extremely contagious. It attacks the gastrointestinal tract.
“The most important things are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, they kind of slow down, they don’t eat,” said Dr. Serrano.
Dr. Serrano said she and her team scrubbed down the main facility in Medley and that the cats in that facility were never exposed.
“The cats that are here are brand new population,” she explained. Dr. Serrano said they were all vaccinated before being taken to the main facility.
She did not think any cats with the virus were adopted out.
Thirty-two cats have been quarantined but Dr. Serrano explained the quarantined cats are not necessarily sick, they just want to make sure no other cats catch the virus. She believes all of the cats will soon be back at the shelter, ready to be adopted.