Objective: To describe clinical and epidemiologic features of an outbreak of feline calicivirus (FCV) infection caused by a unique strain of FCV and associated with a high mortality rate and systemic signs of disease, including edema of the face or limbs.
Design: Observational study. Animals-54 cats naturally infected with a highly virulent strain of FCV.
Procedure: Information was collected on outbreak history, clinical signs, and characteristics of infected and exposed cats.
Results: A novel strain of FCV (FCV-Kaos) was identified. Transmission occurred readily via fomites. Signs included edema and sores of the face and feet. Mortality rate was 40%, and adults were more likely than kittens to have severe disease (odds ratio, 9.56). Eleven (20%) cats had only mild or no clinical signs. Many affected cats had been vaccinated against FCV. Viral shedding was documented at least 16 weeks after clinical recovery.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Outbreaks of highly virulent FCV disease are increasingly common. Strains causing such outbreaks have been genetically distinct from one another but caused similar disease signs and were resistant to vaccination. All cats with suspicious signs (including upper respiratory tract infection) should be handled with strict hygienic precautions. Sodium hypochlorite solution should be used for disinfection following suspected contamination. All exposed cats should be isolated until negative viral status is confirmed. Chronic viral shedding is possible but may not be clinically important. This and similar outbreaks have been described as being caused by hemorrhagic fever-like caliciviruses, but hemorrhage is uncommonly reported. Virulent systemic FCV infection is suggested as an alternative description.