Apr
18
2016

Most strains of feline coronavirus are avirulent, that is, they do not cause disease per se. However, some strains can mutate into feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), an almost always fatal disease, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center.

A new study hopes to change that.

Researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University have successfully developed an antiviral compound for feline coronavirus associated with FIP. The study was published March 30 in PLOS/Pathogens.

"FIP arises from certain viral mutations that occur in the infected cats and failure of the host immune system to contain such mutated viruses," said Yunjeong Kim, DVM, PhD, ACVM-Diplomate and lead author of the study.

"FIP occurs in two major forms: effusive, or wet form, or non-effusive, dry form. The wet form is more common and is characterized by an accumulation of fluids in the abdominal area or chest cavity. Symptoms may include antibiotics unresponsive fever, jaundice, bodily effusions, and weight loss. Once typical clinical symptoms develop, they progress rapidly resulting in death or euthanasia in weeks to months."

Since FIP disease progression is rapid and the pathogenesis of FIP is primarily immune-mediated, it has been unknown whether antiviral drug treatment alone can be effective at reversing disease progression in an infected cat. The results of the study showed that inhibiting viral replication is the key to the treatment of FIP.

"This is the first time we showed experimental evidence of successful treatment of laboratory cats at an advanced clinical stage of FIP," Kim said.

Photo credit: © iStock/Eugene03

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