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Cat adoptions, surrenders halted at PW Animal Shelter due to Calicivirus; anniversary event still on

Prince William County Animal Shelter has halted adoptions of cats after receiving laboratory results that confirmed the Calicivirus has been introduced to the Shelter and the majority of cats in the shelter have been infected.

Chief Animal Control Officer Lt. Pauline Shatswell said, “We have stopped the adoption of cats.  The dogs and other animals are still up for adoption and waiting for forever homes.  We are trying to limit the intake of cats to the shelter.  However overall there will be no impact on the 40thCelebration.  Regrettably we may not have cats to adopt but the event will still take place.” 

Calicivirus, known as Calici, is a highly contagious virus that causes upper respiratory and oral disease in cats. The virus has a tendency to mutate, rendering preventative vaccinations in a shelter environment virtually ineffective.  Since Calici is a virus, there is no specific treatment, only supportive care, according to a news release from Sgt. Jonathan Perok, public information officer.

Calicivirus is spread primarily by contact with an infected animal’s aerosolized respiratory excretions, urine, and feces. It can also be spread through contact with bedding, food dishes, as well as the hands, clothing, and shoes of people who have handled infected animals.

This should be of particular concern to cat owners who allow their cats to roam freely outside the home, leave food outside for community cats, and those who monitor cat colonies.

The shelter vaccinates cats for upper respiratory infections.

The shelter’s veterinarian stresses that viruses, such as Calici, are not born in the shelter but are brought in and must be managed once they are introduced. 

Measures have been taken to prevent further spread of the disease, and the shelter has stopped cat adoptions and surrenders for the next two to three weeks to ensure that no additional infection is introduced to the shelter.

Calicivirus is not contagious or contractible by humans or dogs. However, among cats, this virus is highly contagious and can cause pneumonia, severe painful oral ulceration and in some cases painful arthritis.  Recovered cats are persistently infected for long periods and will continue to shed virus.

Typical symptoms of an upper respiratory infection involve the nose and throat, causing symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membranes lining the eyelids), and discharges from the nose or eyes. The discharges may be clear or may become purulent (containing pus).

Please contact your veterinarian if your cats are displaying signs of possible calicivirus.

Please check the Animal Shelter website  for further announcements regarding this quarantine period.

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