Just a note on "Kennel Cough" which might be confusing to some people. As you know and mention, there are a variety of causes of what is popularly called "Kennel Cough" (and the experts are now calling, "Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease" i.e. "CIRD"). The two most common causes include a virus (Parainfluenza) and a bacteria (Bordetella bronchiseptica). You say you are talking about the viral cause of Kennel Cough, and I think you're correct on that.
But I think many nearly equate a Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterial infection with "Kennel Cough" ... and there is evidence that immunocompromised people can become infected and quite sick with Bordetella bronchiseptica. The more common form of Bordetella that infects humans is Bordetella pertussis (i.e. Whooping Cough) but occasionally Bordetella bronchiseptica is found in humans.
Dr Richard Ford (a leading veterinary Infectious Disease expert from NC State and a co-author of the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines) tells the story at vet CE talks of a woman who boarded her dogs when she went to the hospital to give birth to her child. When she returned home and got her dogs, they were coughing with what turned out to be Bordetella bronchiseptica. Soon after, the new mother got very ill and was hospitalized, and I think went into a coma. The hospital kept culturing Bordetella bronchiseptica ... and called Dr Ford to come for a consultation. The woman recovered but it was an example that some people with a compromised immune system (of which pregnancy can be a cause) can be susceptible to Bordetella bronchiseptica.
In the new (fall 2011) AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines, one of the Q&A items at the end refers to this in terms of the use of the Intranasal vaccine for Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb) which is an attenuated (weakened) live bacterin vaccine. Here is the Q&A from the Guidelines:
52. Is there any risk to clientele or veterinary staff, especially immune compromised individuals, subsequent to intranasal vaccination with an avirulent live (attenuated) Bb vaccine?
It is possible for transient shedding of attenuated Bb to occur following intranasal administration. There are two known reports identifying a temporal relationship between the identification of human Bordetella infection and exposure to attenuated live Bb canine vaccine, one of which was in an immunocompromised patient.
I realize that it is a rare occurrence and seems to only be a problem with immunocompromised people. And I know you were talking about the viral cause of Kennel Cough (Parainfluenza). But I just wanted to mention that there may be some people (e.g. with AIDS, taking chemotherapy, having had their spleen removed, etc) who may want to be careful if their dog starts coughing a lot, particularly after being boarded, and might have Bordetella bronchiseptica.
I think it can be confusing when "Kennel Cough" is often used to describe multiple types of infections and just wanted to (hopefully) help clarify what you were saying.
Rohvannyn is correct. All Rabies vaccines for dogs are Killed Virus vaccines. That means that the Rabies in the vaccine is dead ... so it is not possible for it to cause any disease in your dog or you. Reactions that dogs get to the Rabies vaccine are caused by the stimulation of the immune system, and in some dogs there may be an allergic type of reaction. But there is no danger of you or your dog becoming infected with the Rabies virus.
I'm glad you asked. Waiting 40 days could put your kitten at risk of disease.
The reason for a series of kitten vaccinations is that when kittens nurse in the first 18-24 hours after birth, they receive a special type of milk from the mother called colostrum. The colostrum is rich in antibodies. In the first about 24 hours, the kitten's intestines are porous enough to allow the maternal antibodies to pass directly into the blood stream and they are responsible for protecting the kitten from disease. After the first 24 hours, there is "gut closure" and no more antibodies are able to pass from the intestines into the blood stream.
Those maternally derived antibodies (MDA) will interfere with the vaccines so that there is NO response to vaccines by the kitten. The MDA gradually decrease and there is a period of time (could last 6 or more weeks) in which the MDA is too low to protect the kitten from disease, but still high enough to interfere with vaccines. That is known as the Window of Susceptibility in immunology. Every kitten passes through it, so you have to know that even with vaccination there is a period of time when the kitten is not protected either by maternal antibodies or by response to vaccinations.
So, the kitten series is given solely so that the vaccine can be there as soon as possible after the MDA drop low enough not to interfere.
Studies have shown that there can be MDA interference out to 14-15 weeks of age. But it depends on what the mother's antibody level was at the time of birth and how much colostrum the kitten consumed in those critical first 18-24 hours. Many kittens may no longer have any MDA interference by 10-12 weeks ... in which case, the kitten will be able to respond to a vaccination at 10 or 12 weeks (or older). But studies have shown that about one-third of kittens vaccinated last at 12 weeks of age had no antibodies to Panleukopenia (sometimes called "Distemper" but is actually related to canine Parvovirus) ... i.e. did not respond to the vaccine because of continuing MDA interference.
What all that means is that most of the vaccine experts (i.e. those who wrote the AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines) recommend vaccinating kittens every 3-4 weeks, with the last vaccination at or after 16 weeks of age, when one can be confident that there is no more maternal antibody interference. The most important vaccination is at 16 weeks, but earlier ones are given in case the MDA interference is no longer present at a younger age and one wants to protect the kitten as soon as possible.
So, the most common vaccination schedule for kittens is at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. If your kitten was vaccinated at 10 weeks, most would suggest vaccinating again at 13 and 16 weeks. You can wait until 16 weeks for the next booster, but your kitten may be vulnerable to disease before then if you wait.
Be sure that your vet uses a "Modified Live Virus" vaccine for the core vaccination (usually given as a combination shot with Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calici). The other option is a Killed Virus vaccine that is not as protective and requires two doses, both in the absence of MDA intereference ... and Killed Virus vaccines cause a chronic inflammation at the vaccine site that can increase the risk of a cancer developing in some cats that are genetically susceptible. So, be sure your vet uses Modified Live Virus vaccines.
If Rabies is required by law in your area, it is best to use the recombinant Rabies vaccine (by Merial) which is the only Rabies vaccine that is not Killed Virus. It is usually given at 16 weeks of age or older.
Are you near Raleigh? I'm envious. Most of my info on FeLV comes from Dr Richard Ford (now emeritus) at NC State and one of the foremost experts on Infectious Disease in cats and dogs, as well as a co-author of the AAHA Canine and AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines. Three weeks ago I attended a vet CE conference, attended his 5 talks (including on FeLV) and spent a lot of time with him over the weekend asking questions. I can't speak for Dr Ford, but he does trust my knowledge and encourages me to answer questions and reference him. I try my best to give accurate info ... though I am just a simple pet owner and not a vet.
One thing to keep in mind, as I posted above ... is that kittens are VERY susceptible to FeLV infection ... but adults over 8 months of age have a natural resistance (even without vaccination) and are difficult to infect.
In the past, it was thought that a significant number of cats/kittens cleared the infection because of the negative test results. But in recent years, after the development of the Real Time PCR (RT-PCR) test which can detect the DNA provirus even during a Regressive infection (when SNAP and IFA are negative) ... they now believe that the vast majority of kittens that are infected do not clear the disease and are infected for life. But if they have a good immune system, the infection may remain regressive (dormant) for years or life ... but has the potential to become an active ("Progressive") infection. So, if a kitten tests positive and then later tests negative, it is still better to assume the kitten is still infected. Chances are that your female kitten that tested positive initially and then negative at 5 months, probably has a Regressive infection.
BUT if the SNAP (ELISA) test is negative ... then all feel that the cat is not shedding and will not be contagious. So, if a cat is negative on the SNAP test, you can feel comfortable with other cats around that cat, particularly if the other cats are healthy adults since they have a strong natural resistance to infection.
I'm not sure of the cost, but you could ask your vet about a PCR test for FeLV. I'm a little confused about the PCR tests (one question I didn't get to ask Dr Ford about). I think there is both a regular PCR test and then the RT-PCR test. The RT-PCR seems to be the better test but only done at university research labs. But I think the regular PCR test is done by some commercial labs and can detect the FeLV DNA provirus. The AAFP Retrovirus Guidelines suggest caution with the PCR tests because they are easily contaminated and require a lot of expertise to analyze. But if you use a major lab, like IDEXX, it might be worth doing if you want to feel more confident in the FeLV status of your cats. I suspect that the PCR tests will be less expensive than the bone marrow aspiration.
If your female cat is SNAP negative and the other cats in the household are adults, vaccination probably isn't necessary but might give added insurance. The good news is that there is a NEW Merial recombinant FeLV (rFeLV) vaccine in the US that is given by injection and gives excellent protection, including "cell mediated immunity". It is the ONLY FeLV vaccine that does NOT contain any adjuvant. The Vaccine Associated Sarcomas (VAS) are a result of chronic inflammation along with a cat's genetic predisposition. Adjuvant causes chronic inflammation ... but the rFeLV vaccine has no adjuvant and very little inflammation (equal to injecting saline) ... and greatly reduces the risk of a VAS. So, giving the rFeLV vaccine is a safe option if you want added protection.
By the way, it is felt that cats with a Regressive FeLV infection (test negative) can still "turn on" the oncogenes, causing lymphoma, even while the cat continues to test negative for FeLV. It is possible that FeLV may have been behind your 2 yr old's lymphoma. No way to know.
If you want to talk more off list, here is my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't know if you saw my most recent reply ... but your experience fits exactly what I said above. Kittens are by far much more susceptible to FeLV infection. If a young kitten is exposed to FeLV it will likely become infected. For that reason the experts who wrote the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) "strongly recommended" that ALL kittens be vaccinated for FeLV ... even "indoor" kittens because they can easily get outside.
But it is known that once a cat's own immune system matures (ca 6-8 months) it has a natural resistance to FeLV. It isn't absolute, but in general, it is hard to infect a healthy adult cat with FeLV. It has made it hard to do "duration of immunity" tests on FeLV vaccines because it is hard to know if the vaccine is protecting the cat or if it is their own natural resistance. But the resistance isn't absolute, so it is still possible for an adult to become infected ... it just isn't easy.
FeLV is a rather wimpy virus that doesn't last long in the environment. So it is primarily transferred by prolonged intimate contact (or a bite wound) but not generally via the environment or casual contact (i.e. for adult cats).
Be careful though about kittens that test positive and then later become negative. It is most likely that they did NOT "overcome" it and are still infected. But when the usual screening test (ELISA/SNAP) is negative, you can feel confident that they are not shedding and are not contagious to other cats.
FeLV is a retrovirus that is very complex. The usual SNAP test looks for the virus when it is circulating in the blood stream, which occurs for about 2 months after infection and then later if it becomes a "progressive" infection.
But FeLV is essentially an infection of the cells ... particularly lymphocytes (a type of blood cell) in the bone marrow. Once it is inside the cell, the SNAP test cannot detect it.
Once inside the cell, another test (called IFA) can initially detect it. FeLV is a single stranded RNA virus. When it enters the cell, it has an enzyme (reverse transcriptase) that turns the single strand RNA virus into a double stranded DNA virus. That DNA virus is called DNA "provirus".
After the FeLV turns itself into DNA provirus, it then enters the cell nucleus and integrates itself into the cat's own genome. At that point it BECOMES a part of the cat ... and the cat will be infected for life.
While the SNAP test will detect FeLV in circulation ... and the IFA test will detect it inside of the cell BEFORE it integrates itself into the cat's genome .... once it does become part of the cat's own genes, it will be NEGATIVE on both the SNAP and IFA tests. It is easy to think that the cat has cleared the virus and is no longer infected ... but that is not true. Rather it becomes latent (called a "regressive" infection) and may hide and not cause any disease for weeks, months or years. But in many cats, at some point the FeLV provirus will become active and start producing thousands of copies of itself ... becoming a "progressive" infection that results in immune suppression and disease ... and sometimes cancer.
Though during the latent/regressive phase both the SNAP and IFA tests are negative ... in recent years researchers have developed a PCR test that can detect the DNA provirus. So, while at one time researchers did think that many cats "cleared" FeLV when the SNAP and IFA tests became negative, now they know that most, if not all, cats remain infected ... since they can detect the provirus even during the latent infection. It may remain dormant for the life of the cat and never be a problem ... or it could become active and result in disease, even many years later.
However, if the SNAP is negative, the cat is not contagious. But if the cat gets sick in the future, it should be retested for FeLV.
You may know already but for those who don't yet, I attended a vet CE conference a week ago and spoke with Dr Richard Ford of NC State (a co-author of the Feline Vaccination Guidelines) and I learned that as of January this year there is a new FeLV vaccine available.
It is a NEW recombinant FeLV vaccine by Merial (their Purevax line) which is administered by subcutaneous injection. Previously, Merial had a recombinant FeLV vaccine in the US that had to be administered with a transdermal device that many vets didn't like to use. The new vaccine in the US is different from the injectable Purevax rFeLV vaccine that has been available in Europe and Canada. The new vaccine has been modified so that it gives better cell mediated immunity (CMI) which may be beneficial in FeLV since it is an intracellular disease. Like all vaccines in the Purevax line, it does not contain any adjuvant, which may reduce the risk of vaccine associated sarcoma.
As you know, FeLV is VERY contagious to kittens with immature immune systems, hence the AAFP Vaccination Guidelines recommends that ALL kittens be vaccinated for FeLV. But adult cats with mature immune systems (generally they mature between 6 and 8 months of age) have a natural resistance to FeLV infection ... not complete immunity, but a resistance that makes it difficult for adult cats to become infected. A virologist at NC State makes the comparison by suggesting that on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most susceptible ... a young kitten will be a 10, but an adult cat will have a susceptibility to infection of about 1.5, even without any vaccination.
So, while adult cats that have a significant risk of exposure (e.g. outdoor cats or living with FeLV cats) should probably be vaccinated annually for FeLV ... most adult cats that live inside do not need FeLV vaccinations and have a natural resistance. So, owners should have the greatest concern for protecting young kittens, but they are right not to worry too much about adult cats becoming infected from casual contact.
And, for those who do vaccinate kittens and/or adults for FeLV, it is great that the US now has an injectable recombinant FeLV vaccine that gives excellent protection without containing any adjuvant.
I'm a bit confused. May I ask you a question about Mycoplasma?
I've listened to vet talks about "Mycoplasma felis" which I thought was a respiratory form of mycoplasma. My own cat tested positive for it on an IDEXX URI panel, though my cat is not sick and my vet (and Dr Richard Ford of NC State, whom I asked about it) felt that it is likely just a part of my cat's natural flora. But I know that Dr Lappin at Colorado State feels that in some cats, Mycoplasma felis is a primary cause of upper respiratory disease.
Then, I've heard talks about Mycoplasma haemofelis (formerly called Haemobartonella felis) which is a parasite that attacks the red blood cells and can cause anemia.
I know that both are "mycoplasmas" ... which are unique in that they do not have a cell wall of their own. But are Mycoplasma felis and Mycoplasma haemofelis two different strains ... or are they the same thing that is found in different parts of the cat?
I thought that they were distinctly different (which may be a wrong assumption on my part). But it is interesting that in the post above, Piggy was initially taken to the vet's for upper respiratory disease ... and then found to be anemic with Mycoplasma haemofelis. So, is it the same mycoplasma that is causing both the anemia and also the upper respiratory infection? Or, did Piggy have the bad luck of being co-infected by two different types of mycoplasma (one attacking the blood cells and one in the respiratory tract). Or, is it possible that the URI is caused by something else?
I'm confused by the relationship of Mycoplasma felis to Mycoplasma haemofelis. Are they the same or different?
I've heard Dr Lappin also recommend Doxycyline for Mycoplasma ... whether Mycoplasma felis or Mycoplasma haemofelis. So, it does seem like the best treatment for either or both. Dr Lappin also recommends Doxycycline for a number of other bacterial causes of upper respiratory infection ... so, I think it would be good to use even if there are other co-infections involved. Do you agree, or am I misunderstanding something?
One other question. I've also read elsewhere (Veterinary Partner website) that Prednisone is used for severe Mycoplasma haemofelis to suppress the immune response. But what happens if one factor of the URI is Herpesvirus? I've also heard that steroids can cause Herpes to get much worse since it suppresses the immune system which is needed to control the Herpes. Given the seriousness of the Mycoplasma haemofelis, do you give the Pred and then deal with the Herpes if it gets worse (i.e. if Herpes is involved)? I know that veterinary medicine is an "art" and it can be tricky to balance multiple co-infections or diseases.
Just wanted to add a little to your wonderful post. Though your post subject says "pets", you mentioned only dog related diseases. So, I just wanted to mention a few reasons that flea and tick control is important for cats, too.
Cats can have the same flea problems as dogs in terms of itching, scratching and in severe infections, flea anemia. Many cats also have an allergy to fleas so that even a single flea bite can cause severe dermatitis (skin infection). And, Fleas are a source of tape worms, so cats that have had fleas should also be wormed.
Also important in terms of fleas and cats is the transmission of two diseases (among others) ... Bartonella henselae (aka Cat Scratch Disease) ... and Mycoplasma hemofelis (formerly called Hemobartonella felis and sometimes called Feline Infectious Anemia).
My understanding is that Bartonella (Cat Scratch Disease) is transmitted, not by the flea bite, but by cats ingesting infected flea feces (flea dirt), which is common with cats when they groom themselves. It is felt that most cats do not become sick from Bartonella (though some specialists now feel that it may be a disease factor in some cats) ... the concern is that it can be transmitted to humans, particularly those with compromised immune systems.
I seldom see many talk about tick disease in cats, but there is one very serious and often lethal disease that is transmitted to cats by ticks called Cytauxzoonosis. It's primary reservoir is the Bobcat which transmits it to ticks that can then infect domestic cats. It seems to be found mostly in the SE US with the American Dog tick as the tick most likely to transmit it. I think the experts used to feel that Cytauxzoonosis was nearly always fatal, but now believe that there are some strains that are less virulent and some cats survive after getting sick and some seem to not get sick even though infected. Even so, the CAPC website states that mortality is over 50%.
I think many people in the SE use tick preventatives on their dogs but don't think about doing so with their cats. But if their cats go outside (or dogs may bring ticks inside) it might be wise to give preventatives to cats as well.
Well, I just wanted to add a little to the good info you gave on dogs. I'm not a vet or anything, and hope most of my info is correct. My "hobby" is listening to recordings of talks from vet CE conferences (NAVC, CVC, AAHA, etc) and I enjoy learning, though am painfully aware of how little I know.
By the way, I saw on your bio that you live in the Atlanta area. Do you know a vet there, now retired ... Dr Karen Thomas? While I live in Montreal, I have been corresponding with Dr Thomas for a couple years and she has become a friend and teacher.
Cats don't "cry" out of sadness in the way humans do by producing tears. I'm not a vet and my first recommendation is always to have a vet check it. The vet may want to rule out other causes such as a tear duct blockage or other problem.
But the description of tears sounds like a classic description of one of the most common upper respiratory viruses in cats, called Feline Herpesvirus-1. If the eye discharge is thick and yellow or green, then there may be either a primary or secondary bacterial infection. But "tears" suggest a clear discharge that is most common with Herpes, though it could be another common virus (Calici).
Herpes is extremely common in cats and many simply call it "Cat flu" or a "cold". But it is a virus that, once infected, cats have for life ... but in most cats with good immune systems, Herpes becomes latent (dormant) and hides so that there are no symptoms. Some cats then have future Herpes "episodes", most frequently after periods of stress.
That sounds like it may fit your situation. Kittens are easily infected with Herpes (their mother could have and shed it, even though she has no symptoms). Since he has had some stress lately with the loss of littermates and his Mom being gone for a while, that stress could have brought on a Herpes episode.
The severity of Herpes depends on the cat's immune system and ability to keep Herpes under control (i.e. make it latent so that there are no symptoms ... it is similar to humans that get cold sores after times of stress). Also, are your cats vaccinated (using a Modified Live vaccine, either injected or intranasal) for Herpes/Calici which is one of the "Core" vaccines? It is important that your kittens receive a final kitten-series vaccination at or after 16 weeks of age. The Herpes vaccination will NOT prevent a kitten/cat from becoming infected by Herpes/Calici, nor will it prevent all symptoms. But the vaccine will make the symptoms more mild and help shorten the duration of the episodes. The "watery eyes" is a mild sign of Herpes, so it sounds like you may have had them (mother and kitten) vaccinated.
In many cats, Herpes symptoms do not last long (a few hours to a few days) and the cat's immune system can get it under control without help. For others, it can become more serious and chronic. For those cats, the first treatment usually given is the addition of an amino acid called L-lysine to the food once or twice a day. Lysine will not cure Herpes (nothing will) but it helps slow the replication so that the immune system can get it under control. Cats that have chronic episodes of Herpes are often given Lysine for life, while others just get it during flare-ups.
In more difficult Herpes cases where Lysine isn't sufficient to control it, there are now a couple good antiviral medications that are safe in cats. The one that most of the veterinary experts are recommending now is called Famciclovir which they find to be effective and safe in cats. There is also a topical (eye drop) antiviral called Cidofovir, that can be used but I don't think it is commercially available and your vet needs to get it from an ophthalmologist. Again, those medications will not "cure" Herpes, but will help get it under control. You may see flare-ups in the future after times of stress.
I'm just assuming the problem is Herpes from your description since it is so common in cats. But you need to have a vet check if your kitten continues to have watery eyes.
If you are not a trained, pedigree breeder of Turkish Angoras, I would encourage you to spay your mother cat (and spay/neuter all cats). There are so many cats looking for homes that there is no need to have more litters. Also, spaying your female will lower her risk for mammary cancer later in life and make her less likely to want to get outside.
If your cat hasn't eaten anything (or "virtually nothing") in five days it is an emergency situation. Cats need to eat regularly, or they can be at risk for a serious (potentially deadly) liver disease called "hepatic lipidosis" ("fatty liver") ... particularly if your cat was overweight at all or on a high carbohydrate diet. But even if not, going 5 days with little or nothing to eat is dangerous. And not drinking will cause him to be dehydrated and can also be life threatening. Did the vet check his hydration?
At the very least, I would have expected your vet to draw blood for a full blood test (blood chemistry and CBC) to check organ function and look for clues to his not eating. Were any x-rays done to look for potential obstructions (could he have eaten something he shouldn't have?) or constipation. Did the vet take a very close and careful look at his mouth ... to see if there are any dental or other mouth issues that might be causing him pain so that he doesn't want to eat? Something else your vet may want to test for is Pancreatitis that can effect appetite. There is a quick in-clinic screening test for pancreatitis now (IDEXX lab's SNAP fPL) or a better one sent to the lab (Spec fPL) that is done from a blood sample.
If your vet hasn't done those basic diagnostic tests, I would look for another vet who will check them. If nothing can be found, you might want to consult an Internal Medicine specialist (or Board Certified Feline Specialist) who might want to do an ultrasound to look for evidence of other problems, like cancer.
Cats need to eat and when they don't, there is a problem. When it goes more than a day or two, it is time to look for an answer. If he isn't drinking, he is likely dehydrated and may need either IV fluids at the vet's or subcutaneous fluids (injected under the skin) to get his hydration back.
As your cat's owner, you know better than anyone else when something isn't right with your cat. And refusing food (and water) for more than a day or two is a sign that something is wrong and you need to do the necessary diagnostic tests to find out what the problem is. Good luck and I hope you get some answers and that it is something that can be taken care of.