Feline Nonsuppurative Meningoencephalomyelitis

(Feline Polioencephalomyelitis,"staggering disease")

is a slowly progressive, inflammatory disease of the CNS in domestic cats. It has been reported in North America, Europe, and Australia. The cause is unknown, but an infectious agent, probably a virus, is strongly suspected. The disease causes neuronal degeneration, axonal loss, and demyelination with mononuclear inflammation, most severe in the thoracic segments of the spinal cord. The clinical course is marked by progressive paraparesis of 1-2 mo duration, often with focal hyperesthesia, head tremor, and behavioral changes. Antemortem diagnosis is difficult. There is no treatment, and the prognosis is poor.

Excerpted from: The Merck Veterinary Manual, Eighth Edition, Merck & Co., Inc.


Feline polioencephalomyelitis is a chronic, slowly progressive disease. Pathological findings consist of perivascular cuffing and severe neuronal degeneration and loss, especially in the thoracic spinal cord, together with diffuse degeneration (demyelination and axonal necrosis) of spinal cord white matter. The cause is unknown, although pathological changes suggest a viral infection. It may be associated with panleukopenia or feline leukemia virus. Clinical signs include paraparesis, ataxia, and sometimes hypermetria. An intention tremor of the head may be seen. Affected cats are usually mentally alert. Cranial nerve function is normal except for depressed direct and consensual pupillary reflexes in some animals. Postural reactions and segmental spinal reflexes may be depressed in affected limbs. Occasionally, a localized area of apparent hyperesthesia is evident. Some cats have leukopenia, myeloid hyperplasia, and nonregenerative anemia. Prognosis is guarded to poor. There is no definitive treatment.

Excerpted from: The Merck Veterinary Manual, Seventh Edition, Merck & Co., Inc


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