Diagnosing Feline Calicivirus (FCV) with a PCR Test

FCV, commonly known as feline calicivirus, is a viral disease that causes severe upper respiratory problems in cats. Since FCV is viral, cats contract the virus by coming in contact with contaminated sources. Food and water bowls serve as carriers of the virus as the infection is present in saliva, nasal and eye discharge of sick cats. Often, the disease presents itself alongside other health conditions such as feline herpes virus and chlamydiosis. Since there are different strains of calicivirus that affect pets, it’s important to obtain an accurate diagnosis to prescribe drugs that kill specific strains of infections.

Symptoms of Feline Calicivirus

Calicivirus generally affects the cat's oral and nasal cavity, the eyes and upper respiratory tract. The type of symptoms exhibited vary according to the severity of the strain of infection contracted. The symptoms include ocular and nasal discharge, oral lesions and gingivitis. Pets may also develop muscle pain. The symptoms of feline calicivirus also mimic various other respiratory infections. Due to this, specific diagnostic tests are important. Another form of calicivirus, known as virulent systemic feline calicivirus, is known to occur in catteries and animal shelters. Since this condition causes death in many cases, it's important to obtain prompt results to determine the type of viral infection present.

Diagnosis of Feline Calicivirus

In order to diagnose feline calicivirus, the vet will evaluate the cat's clinical symptoms and medical history. Pet owners should inform the vet if the cat was recently lodged at a boarding facility or recently vaccinated. The vet will also obtain a sample from the pet's conjunctiva to conduct a laboratory analysis. Fluroscein stain tests can help reveal the presence of lesions in the eye. In order to confirm diagnosis of feline calicivirus, the vet will perform a test known as a PCR test, or polymerase chain reaction test.

PCR Test for Cats

PCR tests diagnose calicivirus infections present in the sample by detecting the genetic sequence of certain strains of bacteria. This method of testing is considered more effective in comparison to antibody tests, as diagnosis doesn't depend on increased levels of antibodies in the blood. The benefits of PCR tests include a lower chance of false negative results and early detection of infections. In addition, PCR tests are highly sensitive since they differentiate pathogen strains that appear similar. Since feline calicivirus causes discomfort in pets, it's important to adopt certain preventive measures to avoid viral infections.

Tips to Prevent FCV in Cats:

  • Regularly vaccinate cats
  • Ensure that pets have individual housing units at boarding facilities
  • Food and water bowls should be separate
  • House and surroundings should be thoroughly disinfected
  • Healthy cats should be kept away from sick pets
  • Cats that are carriers of the virus should be kept in a stress free home
  • Kittens should be vaccinated as early as 6 weeks of age

Pets suffering from FCV require proper rest and medication. Since most cats h ave difficulty breathing, it's best to control indoor temperature and use a vaporizer to keep the pet comfortable. Medicines should be prescribed on time and according to vet instructions.