Using titer testing is a valuable investment for shelters to quickly identify, and manage the spread of infectious disease such as Parvovirus, Distemper and Panleukopenia. Prompt identification of these diseases simply helps save resources, time, and most importantly our pets lives. It is as simple as this.
How can VacciCheck help?
Titer testing is often underutilized in the field of shelter medicine due to cost. VacciCheck though, is an in-shelter titer test, that makes titer testing and disease surveillance easier, faster and more affordable, when compared to other alternatives. The Maddies Fund discusses in depth the use of titer testing in general, and VacciCheck in particular.
What do the vaccination guidelines recommend?
The latest WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines recommends titer testing, such as VacciCheck, for the following 2 reasons:
- If there is a disease outbreak within a shelter: all animals within the shelter should be titer tested for Distemper and Parvovirus (dogs/puppies) or Panleukopenia (cats/kittens). If protected, our pets should not become infected or possibly die. Simple and clear thinking. Protected pets can then be separated from non- or low-responding animals.
If our pets test negative, it indicates that these animals are susceptible to the disease and should not be taken out of the shelter until after the incubation period for the infection. These animals should be vaccinated and then retested to confirm that they test positive after the incubation period mentioned above.
- For animals outside of a shelter needing to be admitted in the face of a disease outbreak in the shelter, if the pets test positive with VacciCheck, they may safely enter the shelter as they are protected from disease.
If the pets test negative, these animals should be vaccinated and sent to foster homes until after they have developed protection for these diseases. They should not be allowed to enter any shelter until they are testing positive.
The new AAHA Vaccination Guidelines describe how to use titer testing via their flow chart.
As important as it is for us to care for our own pets, it is just as important to protect all animals in all shelters.
A vet, having encountered a large number of kittens suspected of Panleukopenia (FPV), approached us at Biogal. The kittens in question were of a private home cattery. The owner noticed that two of the kittens were in a very poor condition. The two sickly kittens were brought to the clinic for hospitalization with a suspicion of FPV. None of the kittens had been vaccinated.
The suspected disease was due to a compatible blood results (Low white blood cells) and suggestive clinical signs.
Slowly, at the cattery, other kittens began to show signs of lethargy, diarrhoea and a lack of appetite.
Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV), also known as Feline Infectious Enteritis, Feline Parvoviral Enteritis and Feline Ataxia, is a viral infection affecting cats. It is caused by Feline Parvovirus, Fast progressive with an incubation time of ~2-10 days, highly contagious and can be fatal. The name Panleukopenia comes from the low white blood cell count (Leucocytes) exhibited by affected animals.
Knowing how fatal and highly contagious FPV can be, the owner knew that something had to be done for the sickly and the still healthy kittens. Early treatment and possible isolation of the unaffected kittens, would be wise.
She was glad to hear that the exposed kittens could be differentiated from the healthy ones by using Feline VacciCheck, a simple in-house blood test.
Feline VacciCheck measures IgG antibodies specific to FPV. IgG antibodies rises within days to weeks after exposure to the disease or to vaccination and persist for a long period. In cases with no vaccination history and suggestive clinical signs of the disease the presence of IgG can support the diagnosis.
In young kittens the presence of IgG could be from Maternally Derived Antibodies (MDA). The MDA passively pass to the kittens through colostrum on their first hours of life and disappears within a few weeks from their blood stream.
In this case none of the kittens had been vaccinated. Most of the kittens were estimated to be around 5 months old, where the presence of MDA is less likely. Therefore, the presence of IgG antibodies probably will indicate exposure and will require a close monitoring of the kittens who are at risk and proper disinfection actions to the whole cattery.
Feline VacciCheck testing was run on eleven kittens in the cattery:
The other two antibodies tested are two highly contagious respiratory diseases: Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) and Feline Calici Virus (FCV).
The kittens who showed positive results to all the 3 pathogens, are perhaps those with MDA presence (younger kittens) or those who were exposed to all these 3 diseases (which is very likely in a very crowded cattery).
The two negative FPV kittens were isolated from the others. The whole cattery was properly disinfected with solution of diluted bleach.
All the other kittens, positive FPV IgG, were closely monitored. Being positive means that they had been exposed to the disease but would not necessarily develop the disease. This would depend on the individual immune system of each kitten.
After further investigation, these results were validated using a PCR (Biogal PCRun) technic which confirmed the presence of the panleukopenia virus in all positive kittens.
In total, five out of the nine positive kittens who were closely monitored showed clinical signs and were treated promptly. Thanks to early diagnosis and treatment, the recovery was quick and successful for all five kittens.