New approach to FIP therapy?
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) exclusively affects cats – and is almost 100 percent fatal. In recent years there have been promising but ultimately unsuccessful approaches to vaccination and therapy. But now researchers may have made a breakthrough.
For the first time, veterinarians have been able to successfully treat advanced cases of the deadly viral disease FIP. Researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University report, that inhibiting viral replication is the key to treating feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
Antiviral treatment has led to complete recovery of cats, reports Yunjeong Kim, one of the study authors, even when treatment was started at a disease stage that would have led to death if left untreated. Antiviral treatment resulted in rapid improvement of fever, ascites, lymphopenia and general symptoms within 20 days or less. A significant reduction in titer was also observed, she said. "The next step will be to find out how effective this antiviral treatment is for cats that have naturally acquired FIP with different clinical signs," Kim says.
"FIP viruses" mutate in the intestine
The cause of FIP is the highly virulent virus now known as feline coronavirus (FCoV) designated virus. It was divided into two distinct groups until the late 1990s: The low pathogenic, so-called "Feline enteric coronavirus" (FECV) and the highly pathogenic "Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus" (FIPV). However, the latter is merely a mutation of the "FECV" within the carrier animal. However, the origin of the disease is not yet fully understood. The mutation of the FCoV variant, which is harmless at first, into the so-called "FIP viruses" takes place in the intestine and can still occur years after an infection.
Immune status determines disease onset
It is now believed that it depends on the immune status of the individual animal whether and in what form the disease ultimately occurs. In a proportion of animals, the disease does not break out despite viral mutation having occurred because of a strong cell-mediated immune response. The immune system is thus able to keep the infected blood cells under control. These animals remain without clinical signs, but continue to excrete virus as latent virus carriers. Complete virus elimination is also suspected in some of the animals. But this makes them susceptible to new infections again.
Stress as the most important trigger
The main trigger of FIP is considered to be stress, such as that caused by the encounter of strange cats in the household or in the shelter. In addition, other diseases can also promote FIP. Infected cats excrete the virus through saliva and feces. Ingestion occurs by inhalation or ingestion of the virus either after direct contact with an infected cat or through contaminated food dishes, toys, transport baskets or sleeping baskets (important in cat boarding facilities). Transmission through clothing to which secretions from infected cats adhere is also possible. Diagnosis is made by determining the antibody titer on the basis of clinical symptoms and the "Rivalta sample".
In recent years, there have been repeated attempts to prevent or cure the infection. Even though "successes" have been reported by scientists again and again, these have hardly or not at all proven themselves in practice.
Therapeutic approach also for humans?
Corona viruses also exist in humans. Reported last year we-are-veterinarian about MERS, a disease caused by the Dromedary is transmissible to humans.