This article reports an outbreak of 24 cases of an unusually virulent feline calicivirus (FCV) infection in a small animal hospital. The circumstances and disease signs were very similar to those recently described in an outbreak of FCV hemorrhagic disease in Northern California (Vet. Microbiol. 73 (2000) 281). The virus entered the facility through shelter cats showing upper respiratory signs. Affected cats manifested high fever, anorexia, labored respirations, oral ulceration, facial and limb edema, icterus, and pancreatitis. The infection spread rapidly among the patients by contaminated animal caretakers and hospital equipment. One case of fomite transmission from an employee to a housecat was documented. Prior vaccination, even with multiple doses of FCV-F9-based live calicivirus vaccine, was not protective. Affected cats often required extensive supportive care for 7-10 days, and the overall mortality from death and euthanasia was 32%. The strain of FCV responsible for this outbreak was genetically and serologically distinct from the FCV strain responsible for a similar epizootic and the FCV-F9 strain contained in most vaccines. Outbreaks of this type are being reported with increasing frequency, and are often associated with the practice of treating sick shelter cats in private practices. Similar to the present epizootic, outbreaks of FCV hemorrhagic disease have been self-limiting, but require prompt application of strict quarantine, isolation, personnel sanitation, and disinfection procedures.
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