Romeo died 5 days after this photo
Today I want to talk about Panleuk (Feline Panleukopenia), Parvo (Parvovirus) and Tamiflu (Oseltamivir Phosphate).
There are few diseases in the animal world that strike heartbreak and terror into animal lovers as much as panleuk and parvo. Today's column will be off the beaten path as I will be addressing both cat and dog owners. The two diseases are so alike they are 98% identical, differing in only 2 amino acids. Their symptoms and treatment must be handled quickly or the rate of death exceeds 90%.
Since quite a few of us love both cats and dogs, I hope this article will prove educational without going over the head of those with average intelligence. Research articles tend to do that. And I hope the cat only people will forgive me.
Include me in that group of average intelligence. I've said "oh my aching head" at least a dozen times while doing the preliminary research for this article. I'll list lots of references as "homework" as there is way too much to get into in one article.
My primary research into panleuk and parvo is the use of Tamiflu (a neuraminidase inhibitor) to save the life of a pet stricken with this disease that can claim a life only hours after symptoms appear. However, a dog can't infect a cat and a cat can't infect a dog.
I've never used Tamiflu, which is commonly prescribed for influenza. Not only was it too expensive without insurance, but it only cut the duration of symptoms in humans by one and a half days and the side effects read too much like the flu to even bother with it.
To save a pet, I would do this. No question about it after researching this article.
One source I read on using Tamiflu for cats and dogs stated the drug should be started before symptoms appear. If an animal has been exposed, begin treatment with the drug immediately. Another article said not to start the drug unless an animal has tested positive using a feline or canine snap parvo test. Personally, if I knew a pet had been exposed, I'd start treatment immediately. Once the disease digs in the Tamiflu won't help.
I never realized until I began this research just how painful these illnesses are to an animal. When the GI (gastrointestinal) tract is being destroyed and your pet is vomiting and has diarrhea (sometimes bloody), add on lethargy and dehydration and electrolyte imbalances and then sepsis takes over and poisons the blood and kills quickly. Blood and protein leak into the intestines and cause anemia and loss of protein and endotoxins get into the bloodstream causing endotoxemia. There's really no way this could NOT be this excellent article written by someone who pulled her kitten through panleuk and she kept a diary including dosage amounts, side effects, etc.
Tamiflu requires a prescription and doesn't have a long shelf life. To use it on a pet and it's purchased through a pharmacy, please use a compounding pharmacy. These aren't as difficult to find as you might think. Most medicine we use today began as a compounded drug. A veterinarian can also mix Tamiflu as an oral suspension and advise dosage instructions.
This is HUGE, readers. I don't have any idea how many shelters and vet practices know about this. None of my vets ever even mentioned Tamiflu as a treatment. If we must educate our vets to these new treatments, then we need to do that. We are an animals only voice when it's sick!
When the cost to treat an exposed cat or dog is less than the cost to euthanize, this could become standard practice at shelters. It would save thousands of lives each year. Not only those with the disease, but the stress caused to shelter workers who must euthanize cats who have done nothing wrong except be in the room with a sick cat.
In the private sector it would mean kittens and puppies could be treated low cost at home if good care by a family member was available. After a vet visit first since this is very complicated and your pets life depends on it.
Yes, I realize Tamiflu has it's down side like every other drug out there. But when you're looking at a survival rate at less than 10%, you may have to take the risk and use the drug.
Veterinarians, are any of you using Tamiflu in your practice to treat parvo and panluek. Do any of you (physicians or not) have any more links we might find helpful? And the question I'd REALLY love to know the answer to. How many vets out thee have never even heard of using Tamiflu?
My greatest fear of these diseases in dealing with vets who either don't know of the excellent results achieved by the drug or are too "old school" to try something new. Not even ONCE did I hear the word Tamiflu used as a treatment option. Things could have ended a lot differently if I had.
Anything I've missed? Comments and especially experience in working with Tamiflu would be most helpful.