There have been reports of more cats dying from the deadly virus, feline panleukopenia, as it spreads through KwaZulu-Natal areas.
The virus, also referred to as feline distemper, is a highly contagious, often fatal, disease of cats.
The symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss and fever.
Four cats have reportedly died from the virus at the feral cat colony on North Coast Road. However, some residents say the numbers outside that colony far exceed that mark, Northglen News reported.
Redhill resident Farrah Khan Maharajh, of local NPO Feeding the Furballs, said she was aware of a mass number of deaths as early as mid-October.
“I am aware of a mass number of deaths of domestic, kittens in foster and feral cats who have died because of the disease. We are not sure how the disease is spreading so fast. I can only speculate that people are handling sick animals and are unaware or not informed of the disease and are taking it home and infecting their own cats.
“My warning is not to touch cats you are not hundred percent sure of, healthwise. Make sure your cats are vaccinated. If you have had a cat die from pan, don’t adopt another animal because the virus can stay in an environment for 6 to 12 months.
“Maharajh added pet owners needed to seek medical advice, should their cats develop any symptoms.
“There are only precaution measures, if they are immune compromised, they can be more susceptible to the virus. Pet owners are urged to make sure their cat’s vaccinations are up to date. So far, we’ve only identified this colony as being affected,” she said.
This comes after all cat owners were urged to vaccinate their cats against a deadly strain of Pan Leukopenia that is currently sweeping through South Africa.
“The virus, to our knowledge, was first identified in Durban in a colony of feral cats in North Coast Road in late November,” said Niki Moore, who set up Cats of Durban to improve the lives of wild, stray and feral cats, with sterilisation being a top priority.
Moore said at first it was thought only to affect young kittens or stray and feral cats.
The virus incubates for 10 to 14 days, sometimes without any visible symptoms.
– Caxton News Service