An animal adoption centre failed on this occasion to vaccinate the cats at their centre. They imported, from a rural shelter, cats that they were told were healthy. They took them in good faith on the basis that there were no signs of disease.
You can guess what happened. The 38 cats that they brought into the shelter from this other rural shelter carried a nasty contagious disease called panleukopenia (feline distemper). As the imported cats were in the same room as the unvaccinated cats already at the shelter the disease spread. The signs became clear. There was severe diarrhoea and vomiting and sometimes upper respiratory signs associated with this nasty disease (see symptoms).
As a result, the receiving shelter called Angels of Assisi had to euthanise 12 cats and were forced to close their doors (was this the correct thing to do?). It is a catastrophe when this sort of thing happens and it undermines the purpose of a shelter because once healthy cats are being euthanised.
Panleukopenia is an often deadly disease (eight out of every ten cats who get panleuk will die from it). I have a page on this disease on this website.
What is sad is that a spokesperson for Angels of Assisi said that the disease is very preventable and the vaccine is extremely proficient. A properly vaccinated cat has a very, very low chance of developing panleukopenia, she said.
She knows therefore that the cats should have been vaccinated but were not and the cost is high. It is also noteworthy that the rural shelter sending cats to them must have misled Angels of Assisi as to the health of the cats that they were sending to them.
Therefore there are arguably four errors in this process (a) a fraudulent misrepresentation as to the health of cats at the sending shelter, (B) a failure to vaccinate at the receiving shelter allowing the disease to spread and (C) the failure of the sending shelter to ensure that their cats were in good health and allowing them to develop pan leukopenia and (D) a failure of the receiving shelter to have a quarantine area for incoming cats to ensure that they are separated from the resident cats.
It’s a quadruple screwup and the price is high. In addition to the 12 cats euthanised, it is costing Angels of Assisi up to $40,000 to eliminate the disease from their centre (sodium hypochlorite is the best disinfectant but panleuk is resistant with a 10% success rate). It is not the first time that this is happened. Last winter Angels of Assisi took in 60 cats from Bedford also carrying this particular virus but, fortunately, on that occasion the resident cats were vaccinated.
They are re-evaluating their procedures. I suggest that they take more care when importing cats from other shelters and not to trust what they say because clearly some of them cannot be trusted.