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FELINE INFECTIOUS PERITONITIS (FIP) UPDATE
Minimal progress has been made, but there is new information. FIP is still a mutant form of a highly contagious virus called the benign feline enteric corona virus (FECV). It spreads readily, rapidly and rampantly in multi-cat households and especially at cat shows. Most cats with FECV don’t get ill or display signs. The virus does mutate into FIP.
What is new is it has been discovered one of the ways FIP can be passed from cat to cat is through the litter box. Weekly cleaning of litter boxes is a recommended habit. FECV can be killed by regular disinfectant, though some carrier cats do continue to shed the virus. An FIP infected cat may shed virus intermittently in all body fluids and feces. The problem is that one can’t know when unless you test by PCR.
It used to be believed that it took two corona viruses to combine and mutate and make an FIP strain. Now, it is known that one strain of virus can mutate on itself and make an FIP virus. Over crowding, cat shows, breeding of cats, contact with strays, going outside, etc. are contributing factors.
One researcher recommends not removing an FIP infected cat from the cattery. Siteing that the other cats have already been exposed. Isolating a sick cat is hard on the cat, stresses the immune system, changes the social structure of the cattery and stresses the other cats as well.
Another authority states that, “Removing a KNOWN FIP cat would be of value to those remaining, since there would at least be reduced exposure to additional virus. Even a healthy cat’s system can be over come!” Another possible way to reduce FIP is to try to identify the chronic carriers of FECV and remove them from the cattery.
There is a battery of percentages given concerning how many cats in catteries actually have FECV and/or FIP. It all depends upon who is doing the reporting. What I found was: “One out of 20 kittens could develop FIP.” “It was previously proposed that 90% of all catteries in the Country had corona virus in their group of cats.” “The Winn Foundation recently published an article stating that nearly 100% of catteries already have FECV Corona virus.” “It was proposed that because of the high incidence of corona virus in catteries, any cattery had a 5 – 6% chance of having an FIP kitten.” “FECV is nearly unavoidable in multiple-cat environments and FIP is a consequence of high levels of FECV.”
Dr. Cahill has patented in the U.S. an FIP ELLSA similar to that spoken of at the recent Glasgow, Scotland conference. It was developed to his PCR primers and is, therefore, just about as specific as his PCR test. It, however, detects specific antibodies to FIP virus in serum making it a better test for whole blood (since whole blood commonly has only about a 5% chance of containing circulating FIP virus). This puts Dr. Cahill ahead of UC Davis. He exerts, “Note, though, that NO test will be 100% correct (accurate). Even if there were, over 98 – 99% of the Veterinarians in this country wouldn’t know how to interpret the results!”
I am eternally grateful to Dr. Cahill for his help in providing invaluable knowledge about this disease.
Dr. Allen Cahill
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