Today I expected an easier day at work, than what's been going on. Mind you I said, easier, not easy. I never go into work expecting an easy day. You just never know what's going to walk through the door. Today was no different. Our morning appointments were spread out and were going quite well. I then noticed a new appointment in regards to a cat with labored breathing and lethargy X 1 day. Okay, not a big deal. You get the oxygen ready and get the cat immediately into a room. That's when it all changed. Doc, knowing there was an urgent case, came into the room to verify everything was okay. Noting the cat was drooling severely he opened the mouth to see the tongue covered in sores. Now this could be a variety of things, including getting into something toxic that could burn the tongue. However, with a quick process of elimination we came to the conclusion that more than likely we were dealing with Calicivirus.
Calicivirus AKA Calici has been around for a long time. It's a viral upper respiratory infection that is spread between cats and it's part of the yearly distemper vaccine for the felines. Most often it makes a cat have flu-like symptoms However, recently a new strain has come about that is called virulent systemic feline calicivirus (VS-FCV). This strain is ugly with a high mortality rate. Nothing but bleach will kill the virus and it's HIGHLY contagious to other cats. So contagious that it can close an animal hospital for weeks in order to disinfect appropriately. In addition, there is no definitive treatment. Like parvovirus in dogs, you let the virus run it's course. You don't actually treat the virus, but you treat through rehydration and nursing care, to get the pet through the disease.
After the determination of possible calici, I gear up with a coverup and gloves, and the process begins. We treat the cat according to protocol, with antibiotics and fluids, then set up a time for a re-evaluation tomorrow, which will take place in the client's car as to not contaminate the clinic again. The entire process is a form of event. During the treatment you must remember what you are touching. Everything must be contained to one room and everything that is present in the room must be bleached before leaving the room. If it's not bleached it goes in the trash and then cremated to prevent further contamination. Not only do you have to be concerned about items in the room, but also yourself. Meaning, a footbath of bleach water at the entrance to the room to bleach your shoes when you exit the room. I spent 30 minutes bleaching the room with a spray bottle and bucket of bleach water. Boy, that bleach can get to you. I had to step out every few minutes. Needless to say even now, 9 hours later, my sinuses feel "clean". I had everything cleaned up but then it's as though you have to think of a strategy to leave the room, trying not to contaminate anything. Feet in the footbath and hands in bleach water, allowing everything to air dry, I was set. At that point I went home to decontaminate myself, as to not spread anything to other client's pets.
You may be wondering about our cats. They have been vaccinated against the new strain of calici. Of course there is always a risk, but having been vaccinated, they should be fine. In addition, you must remember that I bring "things" home on my clothes on a daily basis. This is a form of daily vaccination to our pets. Yes, they are being exposed to disease, but at the same time, exposure builds their immunity. In addition, I also took precautions as to not contaminate our house. I took my shoes and socks off prior to entering the house and I immediately went to the basement to wash my clothes and took a shower before having contact with the kids.
The rest of the day didn't slow down any. After coming home for a 5 minute shower, literally, I hurried back to work and had 3 surgeries, then immediately headed into afternoon practice hours. They keep me running there, that's for sure. I work a half day tomorrow, since we only have afternoon office hours, but it's already looking pretty full. And I must say I'm pretty proud of myself. Being that busy at work I've still managed to stay ahead in my school work. It's week 5 and I'm working on week 9 assignments. Rock on! Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!