MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A deadly cat virus has been spreading on Maui, with several more cases confirmed by the Maui Humane Society. Officials said an adult cat and two kittens were brought to the Maui Humane Society and tested positive for panleukopenia -- a virus that can lead to sudden death for cats -- and had been euthanized.
Another cat in Upcountry also died, and there are more suspected cases, according to the Maui Humane Society.
Also known as cat distemper, panleukopenia can lead to epidemic levels, especially since the cat only needs to come in contact with saliva or fluids of an infected animal. So far it does not appear to have spread to other islands. The Hawaiian Humane Society said there have been no known outbreaks on Oahu. The virus has existed on the U.S. Mainland, but not in Hawaii.
"It is possible it is new to Maui. It is a virus that can kill very quickly," said Dr. Miyo Kim, Maui Humane Society Director of Veterinary Services. "The panleukopenia virus is very similar to the parvovirus in dogs in that it is highly contagious and can last a very long time in the environment, up to a year."
The growing concern has prompted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Maui to hold a mass immunization on Sunday at its new Kahului clinic. All cats will receive a vaccine that includes the panleukopenia virus and will be offered at a first-come, first-served basis. Cats must be in hard-sided carriers or traps, and covered with a clean, dry towel.
The vaccinations will be provided from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
For more information, call SPCA Maui at 808-280-0738 or go to spcamaui.org.