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Marshall County Animal Shelter Temporarily Closing Due to Feline Virus

MOUNDSVILLE – The Marshall County Animal Shelter will remain closed for two weeks due to a virus outbreak that occurred in a group of kittens.

The shelter made the announcement Thursday on social media. A litter of kittens dropped off at the shelter the week of June 20 was showing symptoms of a virus called feline panleukopenia. The kittens tested positive for the virus on June 30.

“Feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious disease. Symptoms may not appear for up to two weeks after exposure,” the shelter wrote on its Facebook page.

“Upon the recommendation and advice of veterinarian Paige Stoehr, DVM, the Marshall County Animal Shelter will be closed to the public for a period of two weeks.”

While the shelter is closed it cannot take in any new animals or do any adoptions. No visitors are allowed either. Staff members are doing a deep clean of the facility.

The shelter recommends people who have adopted any animals from the shelter since June 20 to contact it for more information.

“We hope for understanding from our community during this time that the decision to close temporarily is for the health and safety of the animals currently in our care, as well as animals in the community,” shelter officials wrote.

“The health and safety of the animals is always our No. 1 priority. Please keep in mind that vaccinations save lives. Feline panleukopenia can be prevented by ensuring your cats at home are up to date on their annual core vaccinations.”

Marshall County Animal Shelter Director Abby Bateman said Friday the kittens did not survive the illness and died.

“Unfortunately the ones who were sick didn’t make it,” she said.

She noted the virus is extra hard on kittens because their immune systems are not fully developed. The virus can be prevented by vaccination, but the group of kittens, estimated at 7-8 weeks old, had only received their first in the series of three shots before becoming ill.

Bateman said it is important for adult cats to get their routine shots, too. The combination FVRCP shot contains vaccines against three different feline viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

“We’re just deep cleaning now to make sure no one else who comes here comes into contact with it,” Bateman said.

She noted the shelter had to throw out all of its towels and blankets to prevent the possible spread of the virus. She said the shelter is in need of bleach, towels, washcloths and paper towels. The items can be dropped off at the shelter’s front door.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, feline panleukopenia does not infect people. First signs of the virus in cats include “generalized depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration.”

Bateman said once the shelter reopens for business it will likely extend its $50 dog adoption promotion aimed at getting as many shelter dogs weighing 50 pounds or more new homes.

“It was doing OK, but we still have quite a few,” she said of the larger dogs.

Bateman said adoptions across the board have been slower because of the state of the economy and inflation. To date, there has not been a large influx of people giving up their animals because of inflation, she said.

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