- one serotype both natural and vaccine induced
- highly antigenic immunity high and long-lived.
Vaccination has been very successful where it has been carried out.
Both modified live and inactivated systemic vaccines are available. Both confer perfectly adequate immunity, though modified live vaccines may induce slightly greater and possibly more rapid protection. Inactivated vaccines can, however, be used safely in pregnant queens and, if necessary, in young kittens, and are free from the, albeit small, risk of contamination from extraneous agents or reversion to virulence.
In kittens born to immune queens there is a high degree of correlation between antibody titres in queens and passive immunity levels in kittens. However, although a normagraph has been devised to predict at what age successful vaccination may be performed, in general for FP such an individual approach is not necessary. This is probably because in most breeding colonies immunity is usually in a reasonably steady state as a result of a long tradition of effective vaccination and absence of clinical disease.
For vaccination purposes, kittens may therefore be divided empirically into the categories shown in this table .
Duration of immunity
Thought to be relatively long. Thus:
- Cats that have had natural disease have very high serum neutralising antibody titres
- Cats vaccinated with attenuated vaccines have moderate titres, which have shown to persist for at least 4 years.
- Cats vaccinated with inactivated vaccines have slightly lower titres, but these for at least a year.
On balance, initial booster advocated at one year, plus further doses at 1 to 2 yearly intervals, depending on the type of vaccine used and likelihood of exposure, e.g. entry into a boarding cattery. Natural exposure and boosting may occur, but cannot be relied upon.
Vaccination breakdowns and control
A regular vaccination programme, as outlined above, should ensure a good level of protection in most animals. In addition, cats on first entering a colony should be vaccinated fully at least 2 weeks before entry, and quarantined for 2-3 weeks on arrival. In boarding catteries, all cats should be housed individually, with their own equipment and utensils, and any animals with suspect clinical signs kept strictly isolated and fed last.
Nevertheless in open colonies and even in well controlled colony situations breakdowns may sometimes still occur. This may be because of, for example:
- Lapses in vaccination schedules.
- Intercurrent disease (e.g. with FeLV, FIV).
- Individual immunological incompetence.
- Overwhelming infection from a clinical case.
- Kittens who are unprotected because they have just lost their maternally derived antibody (MDA), or they were vaccinated whilst MDA was still present at an interfering level.
Once even one case has occurred, the environment will be heavily contaminated, and this may then lead to further cases.
- All pens, bedding, feeding and cleaning utensils, clothing and footwear of personnel should be adequately cleansed and disinfected.
- Booster vaccinations should be given to all cats, and inactivated vaccine to any pregnant queen.
- Following adequate disinfection, a cat fully vaccinated 2 weeks previously may be safely introduced on to the premises.
- Where disinfection is difficult (e.g. in a house), or a replacement kitten is too young for the vaccination course to be completed, it might be advisable to wait for several months, or to confine the cat to different quarters.
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